Russian Officials Generate 'Speculation' Over Alleged Bryansk Attack: ISW

The reported attack in Russia's Bryansk region near the border with Ukraine has "generated speculation" by some Russian officials, according to the latest assessment from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

On Thursday, Governor Alexander Bogomaz of Bryansk claimed that "several dozen Ukrainian saboteurs" bombarded the village of Lyubechane in the Klimovsky district and took up to six hostages. Russian President Vladimir Putin called the incident a "terrorist attack," but Ukrainian officials accused the Kremlin of staging a false "provocation."

According to the ISW report, however, several Russian officials have raised questions about Russia's response to the alleged attack.

Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesperson, told reporters that he was "unaware" if Russia plans on changing its status of what it calls a "special military operation" in Ukraine to "war" because of the attack, reported state-owned news agency TASS. Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin also used Thursday's attack as another opportunity to promote his own mercenaries, "sarcastically" saying that the Kremlin "had been allowing Ukraine to violate its 'red lines,'" wrote the ISW.

Kremlin Sparks Speculation Over Bryansk Attack Response
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday gives a speech during a meeting of the Federal Security Service Board in Moscow. On Thursday, the Institute for the Study of War reported that some Russian officials had triggered "speculation" over the Kremlin's handling of an alleged attack from Ukrainian "saboteurs" in the Bryansk region. Gavriil Grigorov/Sputnik/AFP via Getty

The ISW also pointed to several calls from Kremlin-affiliated mil-bloggers for Russia to "expand security measures and conduct retaliatory operations" in response to Thursday's attack. Some bloggers said that Russia should officially designate the Ukrainian Armed Forces and other Kyiv-aligned groups as "terrorist organizations." Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Chechen Republic, specifically called for Russia to target Ukrainian civilians "to punish the perpetrators of this incident," read the report.

"These responses indicate that the ultranationalist community is largely dissatisfied with numerous aspects of the Kremlin's inability to fully commit to its own false rhetoric that Russia is fighting an 'existential war' in Ukraine," the ISW added.

Members of the Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK)—a group of Russians fighting to defend Ukraine against Russia's invasion—did claim to have crossed the Russia-Ukraine border on Thursday. According to reports from the group's members, however, the men did not shoot at civilians or take any hostages in their offensive.

"The Russian Volunteer Corps came to the Bryansk region to show their compatriots that there is hope, that free Russian people with weapons in their hands can fight the regime," RDK posted on Telegram.

Other Russian districts along the northern border of Ukraine have also been reportedly facing fire in the Kremlin's ongoing invasion. On Tuesday, the mayor of Belgorod, Valentin Demidov, said that the wreckage of three unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) had crashed into city, damaging an apartment complex. The origin of the drones remains unclear to officials.

Moscow has also not let up in the northern Ukrainian region of Kharkiv. On Monday, the Kharkiv-based media outlet Gwara reported that more than 15 settlements in the region had been hit with Russian shelling, and the region's governor, Oleg Sinegubov, reported Tuesday that a 73-year-old man was hospitalized due to Russian "artillery and mortars."

Newsweek has reached out to the Russian Ministry of Defense for comment.