Moscow accuses Ukraine of striking villages on Russian territory

Kremlin warns Finland and Sweden of ‘consequences’ if they join Nato

Moscow has accused Ukraine's military of striking Russian villages and warned that it could retaliate by targeting key strategic sites in Kyiv, prompting Ukrainian officials to warn that Russia plans to stage attacks on its own territory to "whip up anti-Ukrainian hysteria".

Officials in the Bryansk and Belgorod regions of Russia, which border Ukraine, said on Thursday that Ukrainian forces had attacked at least three villages, following earlier disputed claims that Kyiv's military had hit border posts, a railway line and a fuel depot in Russia.

“On April 14th, 2022, using two combat helicopters equipped with heavy offensive weapons, military personnel of the armed forces of Ukraine illegally entered the airspace of the Russian Federation,” Russia’s investigative committee said in a statement.

“Moving at low altitude, they carried out at least six air strikes on residential buildings in the village of Klimovo,” it said, adding that seven people were injured.


Officials in the Belgorod border region said the village of Spodaryushino had been shelled from Ukrainian territory and that its residents, and those of nearby Bezymeno village, had been temporarily evacuated. No one was reported to be hurt in the shelling.

Some Russian officials have also blamed Ukraine for recent mortar strikes on border posts, a helicopter attack that destroyed a major fuel depot in Belgorod, and an explosion that mangled a railway line used by Russia’s military to move troops and armour to Ukraine.

Ukraine has not taken responsibility for any of the incidents, and some Kyiv officials call them Russian “false flag” operations to justify the war and more attacks on Ukrainian cities, and to stiffen public support for an invasion that has suffered major setbacks.

"We see attempts of sabotage and strikes by Ukrainian troops on sites on the territory of the Russian Federation," Russian military spokesman Igor Konashenkov said this week.

“If such cases continue the armed forces of the Russian Federation will strike at decision-making centres, including in Kyiv, which the Russian army has so far refrained from doing.”


The anti-disinformation centre of Ukraine’s national security council said on Thursday that “the enemy’s special services have launched a plan to carry out terrorist attacks to whip up anti-Ukrainian hysteria in Russia”.

Moscow frames its all-out invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24th, as a “special military operation” that it was forced to conduct to preserve its own security in the face of hostile western powers that are using Ukraine as a “bridgehead” to attack Russia.

Russia’s military has yet to seize control of any major Ukrainian city, and it has been driven back from outside Kyiv, prompting Moscow’s state media to portray the war now as a battle not only against Ukraine, but a shadowy alliance of western powers.

The Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine – which has killed thousands of people and displaced more than 10 million – has prompted Finland and Sweden to re-assess their long-held military neutrality and consider a swift application to join the Nato military alliance.

Russian deputy foreign minister Alexander Grushko said on Thursday that any change to security arrangements in the region would "seriously worsen the military situation and bring about the most undesirable consequences that need to be avoided".

“It is clear that our border with Finland is 1,300 km long. This will mean a radical change in the military and political situation, and it is understandable that we will be forced to take security and defence measures that we will deem necessary,” he added.


Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia's security council, warned that his country would deploy hypersonic missiles, nuclear-capable rockets and nuclear-armed ships close to Sweden and Finland if they joined Nato."Let's hope the common sense of our northern neighbours wins out," he said.

The threat of Russia potentially using tactical or low-yield nuclear weapons in Ukraine cannot be taken lightly, the head of the CIA has said.

However, CIA director William Burns said on Thursday that the intelligence agency had not seen a lot of practical evidence to reinforce that concern.

In a speech at Georgia Tech, Mr Burns spoke of the “potential desperation” and military setbacks that Russian president Vladimir Putin and his government had experienced since they moved forces into Ukraine on February 24th.

He said that for those reasons, “none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low-yield nuclear weapons”.

That said, despite “rhetorical posturing” by the Kremlin about putting the world’s largest nuclear arsenal on high alert, “we haven’t seen a lot of practical evidence of the kind of deployments or military dispositions that would reinforce that concern”.

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin is a contributor to The Irish Times from central and eastern Europe