The United States has distanced itself from an incursion into Russia, which, according to Moscow, resulted in the defeat of armed insurgents from Ukraine.
On Monday, portions of Belgorod’s border region were attacked in one of the largest cross-border incursions since Russia invaded its neighboring country a year ago.
Later, Russia released images of abandoned or damaged Western military vehicles, including Humvees manufactured in the United States.
The United States insisted that it does not “encourage or enable strikes within Russia.”
A state department spokesman acknowledged reports “circulating on social media and elsewhere” that US-supplied munitions had been used but said his country was “skeptical of the veracity of these reports” at this time.
During a press briefing on Tuesday, Matthew Miller stated, “Ukraine must decide how to conduct this war.”
Some Ukrainian military experts and bloggers have speculated that the images of destroyed American vehicles disseminated by Russia were staged.
Belgorod villages near the border were evacuated after they came under bombardment. Russia claims seventy attackers were slain and insists the combatants were Ukrainian.
However, Kyiv denies any involvement, and two Russian paramilitary groups opposed to Russian President Vladimir Putin have claimed responsibility.
The raid on Monday prompted Moscow to proclaim a counter-terrorism operation, granting authorities the authority to restrict communications and movement.
One paramilitary organisation seized control over a small part of Russia once the measures were lifted the following afternoon.
According to regional administrator Vyacheslav Gladkov, one civilian was killed and several others were injured during the violence.
In a subsequent development, he reported that the region was subject to a “large” number of drone attacks Tuesday night. According to him, the assaults caused damage to private vehicles, homes, and offices, but no casualties.
The drone barrage damaged a gas pipeline near Graivoron, causing a minor fire on Wednesday morning, according to Mr Gladkov.
Commenting on the hostilities in Belgorod, the Russian Ministry of Defence stated that a “unit of a Ukrainian nationalist formation” had infiltrated its territory to launch attacks.
One of its photographs depicted a wrecked vehicle with the words “for Bakhmut” written in Russian on it, a reference to the Ukrainian city that Moscow claims to have recently seized, a claim that Kyiv disputes.
The ministry said artillery and air strikes killed scores of “Ukrainian terrorists” and forced the remaining combatants back to Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials said the attackers were Russians from the Liberty of Russia Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC).
The two paramilitary groups’ social media posts appeared to corroborate their involvement. Both groups informed Ukraine’s public broadcaster Suspilne that they were establishing a demilitarised zone along the Russian Federation’s frontier from which it would be impossible to shell Ukraine.
Any attack on Russian territory worries NATO leaders, which might benefit Kyiv.
The incursion may embarrass Moscow and soften the blow of Ukraine losing Bakhmut after months of brutal fighting.
It is also likely to be part of Ukraine’s shaping operations ahead of its upcoming counteroffensive, to divert Russian forces away from the area where Kyiv is anticipated to launch its offensive.
However, this is not a development that the West is likely to applaud.
Even though these countries did not use the long-range weapons they provided to Kyiv in this attack. They are still prohibited from being used against targets inside Russia.
Despite Kyiv’s denials, it is difficult to assume that this raid was conducted without the assistance of Ukrainian military intelligence.
It supports the Kremlin’s narrative that Russia’s sovereign security is under attack by Western-backed malign forces.
This narrative is likely to be bolstered by reports that some participants have ties to far-right extremism, bolstering Moscow’s claim that it is attempting to purge Ukraine of neo-Nazis.