Russia is being urged to arm its self-defense forces as a result of a cross-border raid
Russia is being urged to arm its self-defense forces as a result of a cross-border raid

Dubai: This week's cross-border raid from Ukraine into Russia sparked calls for Moscow to permit local self-defense units to be armed. One significant lawmaker even suggested creating a new military border command structure.

After a two-day invasion of the Belgorod region by Kremlin-opposing ethnic Russian fighters based in Ukraine and reportedly driving US-made military vehicles, Moscow was forced to order air and artillery strikes to expel the raiders.

Russia claims that at least one civilian was killed in the attack, which has sparked discussion about what Moscow — which invaded Ukraine 15 months ago in what it called a "special military operation" — can do to better protect its own border.

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A similar armed incursion into Bryansk, another border region, was conducted by fighters based in Ukraine.

A similar armed incursion by fighters based in Ukraine into another border region, Bryansk, occurred in March, and it appears that Ukraine has increased drone and sabotage attacks against targets inside Russia. Ukraine has long promised a potent counteroffensive to drive Russian forces from its own territory.

Following this week's attack, the governors of Belgorod and Kursk, two regions that share a border with Ukraine, declared their support for amending the law to permit neighbourhood volunteer self-defense units to carry weapons when necessary.

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Belgorod's governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, stated that he and others were working to try and change the law. (Local self-defense units) are available. Seven battalions totaling almost 3,000 people are stationed along the border, according to Gladkov.

He claimed that they were prepared for battle and had been practising since November of last year, but he added that they were still unarmed because it was against the law in Russia at the time to arm them.

In order for those who are skilled, competent, and professionals to be able to push the enemy back if necessary, we are currently looking for a legal justification, the official said. "I believe it would be the best course of action."

By arming such groups, the defence ministry might avoid having to shift some of the soldiers it needs for the front lines to deal with future raids of this nature.

The idea has strong support from Andrei Turchak, first deputy speaker of the upper house of parliament, according to Roman Starovoit, the governor of the Kursk region, which borders Ukraine.
In a meeting with Putin at the Kremlin last month, Turchak informed the president that the problem needed to be resolved.

"These formations' legal standing is currently very limited, and most importantly, they are not permitted to possess or use weapons. Turchak spoke to Putin and handed him a report with suggestions to consider. "We propose that this anomaly be eliminated at the legislative level," Turchak said.

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Bigger structural changes, according to influential lawmaker and chairman of the lower house of parliament's defence committee Colonel-General Andrei Kartapolov, are also required to secure the border.

He told the RBK news outlet that the military and security forces in Russia's border regions with Ukraine now required a single headquarters that could coordinate and be in charge of all of them.

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