NewsSabotage and Tension Rise in Russia as Elections Approach

Sabotage and Tension Rise in Russia as Elections Approach

Chaos, threats, and sirens. Will Putin be surprised just before the elections in Russia?
Chaos, threats, and sirens. Will Putin be surprised just before the elections in Russia?
Images source: © Telegram

4:39 PM EDT, March 13, 2024

Vladimir Putin would prefer the so-called elections to unfold without issues, which is why we're closely monitoring Ukraine's actions. The goal is to sow as much chaos as possible during this pivotal period, or perhaps to strengthen Russian opposition against the government, believes Prof. Krzysztof Żęgota from the Institute of Political Sciences at the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, an expert in Russian security policy.

This expert is referring to a series of disruptive events in Russia. In the village of Tetkino in the Kursk region, which is next to Ukraine, and has a population of 3,300, militants from the "Freedom of Russia" Legion, siding with Ukraine, emerged. They announced their intentions to participate in the elections as a way to free the area from Putin's grip. Subsequently, they claimed to have seized control of the settlement, although the Russian Ministry of Defense contradicted these statements. In Kursk, residents hastily recorded the alarm sirens echoing through the streets.

The situation escalated in the Belgorod region as well. On Wednesday, 45,000 residents of Belgorod and the Shebekino community experienced a blackout after drones from Ukraine struck power lines. The regional authorities reported that ten Russian civilians were injured, and one counter-terrorism officer lost their life.

Unrest in Russia: "Please remain calm; the explosions are part of an exercise"

To the northeast in Voronezh, nearly 50 drones were neutralized within a day. From the night of March 12th to the 13th, four refineries deep within Russian territory, located in Ryazan, Kstovo, Kirishi, and Novoshakhtinsk, became targets of attacks. This added strain to Russia, already grappling with fuel price increases due to market shortages, prompting a ban on gasoline exports.

On Wednesday, Russian officials went to great lengths to assure the public that the situation was under control. The Governor of Belgorod, Vyacheslav Gladkov, confirmed on Wednesday morning that air defenses were actively intercepting drones, attributing fires and damage to debris. Nevertheless, panic among the populace has been fueled by sensational reports from the Telegram service. "The Kursk and Belgorod regions. We repel one attack after another!" exclaimed one of the channels, Russia Now.

This panic extended to the city of Pskov, near the Estonian border, over 435 miles from Ukraine. Residents reported hearing explosions, prompting the regional governor to declare that planned military exercises were occurring near the city, urging the public not to worry and assuring them that all was well and under control.

Putin's Victory in Russia Seems Pre-arranged

- The importance of these attacks should not be overstated in a military sense. The Russian army appears well-prepared to counter the "Freedom of Russia" Legion. It seems the real aim is to cause disruption right before the sensitive period of the so-called presidential elections, Prof. Żęgota remarked.

He highlighted that the stage in Russia was set for the continuation of Putin's reign. - But these cannot be considered genuine elections, he clarified.

The election, planned for March 15-17, sees Putin facing no real competition; his adversaries are either deceased or have been disqualified. Those allowed to run serve merely as a facade for the current leadership. - Putin is expected to secure around 80 percent of the vote under these conditions, and any lower outcome would likely be manipulated, added Prof. Żęgota.

Warnings of Attacks and Embassy Alerts

On Wednesday, a video featuring masked individuals claiming allegiance to Alexei Navalny was shared on Telegram. Displaying what they claimed were explosives, they threatened that election commission premises in Russia would be targeted. - We have many more surprises for the Russian president, they hinted.

It's worth noting that on March 7th, the American embassy in Moscow issued a security alert. The embassy cautioned about extremists planning an attack on a large gathering in Moscow. Following the American lead, diplomats from Latvia, Canada, South Korea, Sweden, and Germany also issued warnings.

Russia Denies the "Freedom of Russia" Legion's Success

On Wednesday morning, both the Russian Ministry of Defense and local residents refuted claims that the "Freedom of Russia" Legion had taken control of Tetkino village in the Kursk region. The assault was dismissed as a "Ukrainian psychological operation". The Russian Military Review reported that over 100 Ukrainian saboteurs were eliminated in border skirmishes. "Local residents have started uploading videos to show that the village of Tetkino remains free of enemy forces," the authors reported.

Meanwhile, the website showcased images of a damaged tank and several armored vehicles near the Nechoteevka border checkpoint in the Belgorod region, stating these incursions were successfully repelled by Russian airborne forces.

The "Freedom of Russia" Legion, formed in Ukraine from Russian emigrants and defectors, has actively opposed Kremlin forces, including notable operations in the Belgorod region. Yet, their presence was short-lived, as they were driven out within two weeks. Polish military analysts have suggested that such sabotage efforts could be aimed at diverting Russian forces from the primary battlefronts.

Related content