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FRANCE 24 spoke to the exiled Russian opposition Ilya Ponomarev, the political representative of the Freedom of Russia Legion. This paramilitary group of Russian volunteers based in Ukraine has been involved in cross-border incursions into Russia’s Belgorod region over the past few days. Ponomarev claimed that the pro-Ukrainian, anti-Putin group “has not lost a single soldier” and is successfully advancing inside Russia. In the end, “our men are in Moscow and Putin is not in the Kremlin”, he predicted.
Speaking to FRANCE 24 from Kyiv where he lived in exile, Ponomarev claimed that tThe Freedom of Russia Legion “did not lose a single soldier” while launching cross-border raids this week from Ukraine into Russian territory.
He denied claims by Russian authorities that they had crushed the paramilitary forces, killing 70 fighters.
Along with the far-right Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC), the Freedom of Russia Legion controls a 40-kilometer strip of the Russian-Ukrainian border and is advancing inside Russia, he added.
>> Read more: Ukraine has denied Russian accusations of an attack in the border region of Belgorod
Ponomarev recognized that his paramilitary group, whose end The objective is to overthrow the Russian regime, received a “green light” from the Ukrainians before launching the raids, because his troops were “part of the Ukrainian military”.
However, the former Russian legislator insisted that “not a Ukrainian soldier entered Russian soil”, calling the raids “a completely autonomous operation by Russians inside Russia”.