KYIV: The governor of Russia’s Belgorod region on the border with Ukraine said on Sunday that fighting was ongoing on his side of the frontier and acknowledged pro-Ukrainian forces had taken Russians prisoner during cross-border clashes.
The governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said he was ready for talks to retrieve “our guys” from the saboteur fighters who say they have taken Russian soldiers prisoner in the Belgorod region.
It was the first time a Russian official had admitted to the capture of prisoners on Moscow’s territory by pro-Ukraine forces during the more than 15 months of conflict.
The pro-Kyiv groups made up of Russians, the Russian Volunteer Corps and the Legion for Freedom of Russia, had earlier called on the Belgorod governor to meet fighters and retrieve captive soldiers.
“The only thing stopping me from negotiating with them is our guys that are in their hands, maybe they are already dead,” Gladkov said. He said fighting was ongoing in the border village of Novaya Tavolzhanka.
Ukraine has intensively shelled Russian settlements on the border this week, forcing thousands to flee to the regional hub of Belgorod.
“A sabotage group came in, there is combat in Novaya Tavolzhanka,” Gladkov said.
Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2023