Cross-border raids in Belgorod Oblast: a six-month outlook

On March 12, rebel forces aligned against Vladimir Putin’s government launched a military incursion into Belgorod Oblast. This is the third such raid in two years. Residents of Russian border villages fled due to violent clashes between paramilitary groups and Russian National Guard units. Both Ukraine and Russia claim some degree of victory or strategic advantage from these raids. These competing narratives create a gray zone of information. We will analyze the actual results of these attacks, their potential impact on other troubled Russian regions, and the likelihood of more cross-border attacks in the near future.

Core judgment 1. It is likely that cross-border incursions into Belgorod Oblast will prompt Russia to divert manpower and resources from the east to protect its southern flank over the next six months.

Core judgment 2. It is likely that cross-border raids in Belgorod over the next six months will embolden other resistance groups within the Russian republics.

Core judgment 3. It is highly likely that Ukraine will continue to sponsor cross-border raids by Russian resistance groups over the next six months.

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