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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Zelensky personally ordered bombing attack on civilians – RT source

The strike on the Russian city of Belgorod was launched by the nationalist Kraken battalion, a security source has claimed

A massive rocket strike targeting the Russian border city of Belgorod on Saturday was launched on the direct order of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, a Moscow security source has told RT’s Russian-language service. The attack claimed the lives of 24 people and left more than 100 injured.

According to the source, the Ukrainian leader put the head of Ukrainian military intelligence (GUR), Kirill Budanov, in charge of the operation. In October, Russia’s Investigative Committee identified Budanov as one of four suspected masterminds of over 100 “terrorist attacks” targeting Russian civilian infrastructure. In December, a Moscow district court ordered his arrest on terrorism charges.’

Read more: 31 civilian lives lost in Ukraine from Russian strike

Budanov has openly advocated Ukrainian attacks on Russian soil, including territory that Kiev recognizes as being under Moscow’s sovereignty. The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) identified Budanov as the mastermind of the October 2022 bombing of the Crimean Bridge, which involved a powerful explosive device smuggled into Russia by an unsuspecting truck driver.

Saturday’s attack on Belgorod was launched by the notorious Kraken Regiment, the source told RT. The unit is composed primarily of veterans of another infamous Ukrainian ultranationalist force, the Azov Regiment, and other neo-Nazi fighters and volunteers.

Based in the Ukrainian city of Kharkov, located less than 100 kilometers away from Belgorod, the Kraken Regiment is formally a Special Forces unit under the command of the GUR and is thus answerable to Budanov. The Russian authorities have previously accused Kraken fighters of torturing and killing Russian POWs. Russia’s Defense Ministry also claimed in 2022 that Kraken forces had executed around 100 fellow Ukrainian soldiers who had abandoned their positions at the time.

The attack on Belgorod was led by a notorious ultranationalist Kraken commander identified as Sergey Velichko, according to the RT source. Moscow placed a bounty on Velichko in August 2022. At the time, the Russian Interior Ministry offered a reward for any information about him and another nationalist commander, Kostantin Nemichev.

Both men had previously served with the neo-Nazi Azov Regiment, which was declared a terrorist organization by Russia’s Supreme Court in June 2022. They were also put on the international wanted list, as well as Russia’s ‘ten especially dangerous wanted criminals’ list. The fighters have since joined the Kraken Regiment.

Read more: Macron Urges EU Support for Ukraine Amidst Doubts

On Sunday, the Russian military conducted a string of high-precision missile strikes targeting Ukrainian military facilities and officials in response to the attack on Belgorod. Decision-making centers and other military targets in Kharkov were targeted, it added.

The Russian strikes reportedly managed to eliminate some of the Ukrainian intelligence and military officials involved in the planning of Saturday’s attack on Belgorod, the Defense Ministry said. Some fighters with the Kraken Regiment were also killed, the officials added.

According to the RT source, Velichko was initially presumed to have been killed in the counterstrike, but this has not been confirmed.