A neo-Nazi militia launched a cross-border raid from Ukraine into Russia’s Belgorod region on Monday using US armored vehicles, Financial Times reported Tuesday.
Denis Nikitin, leader of the Russian Volunteer Corps, said his fighters who attacked Belgorod were in possession of US armored vehicles, including at least two M1224 MaxxPro armored vehicles, known as MRAPs, and several Humvees. Videos and pictures posted by Russia’s military corroborated Nikitin’s claims.
Nikitin is a well-known extremist who has ties to neo-Nazis across the world and has his own white nationalist clothing line. According to Financial Times, the Russian Volunteer Corps “includes self-avowed neo-Nazis.”
The group was formed in 2022 and is said to be comprised of Russian citizens who have volunteered to fight for Kyiv. Some of its members signed up to fight in the Donbas war back in 2014 and are Azov Battalion veterans.
Nikitin would not say how his fighters acquired the US-made armored vehicles. Ukrainian intelligence officials have acknowledged that they cooperate with the Russian Volunteer Corps and another group that launched the assault, the Freedom of Russia Legion.
“Of course, we communicate with them. Of course, we share some information,” Andriy Chernyak, a Ukrainian military intelligence official, told Financial Times. “And, one might say, we even cooperate.”
Chernyak denied supplying the Russian volunteers with equipment and claimed that they launched the operation on their own. However, The Times of London reported that Discord leaks show Ukraine had been planning attacks on Russian territory using Russian volunteer groups for some time. One document said the Russian citizens fighting for Ukraine are armed with “various qualitative types of NATO weapons.”
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller was asked about the news of US weapons being used in attacks on Belgorod and said he was “skeptical” of the reports. He insisted the US does not “encourage or enable strikes inside of Russia” but said it’s “up to Ukraine to decide how to conduct this war.”