Moscow declared, stating that its military forces were actively involved in a confrontation with a Ukrainian “sabotage” group that had managed to infiltrate Russian territory. Conversely, Kyiv asserted that its objective was to recapture control over the eastern city of Bakhmut.

Moscow said Monday its troops were battling a Ukrainian “sabotage” group that infiltrated Russian territory, as Kyiv insisted it is still fighting for control of the flash point eastern city of Bakhmut.

The announcement of the latest incursion in the southern region of Belgorod came after Ukraine said Russian forces pummeled the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro with missiles and drones overnight.

Russian authorities said they had introduced an “anti-terror regime” in Belgorod, which has been attacked since Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year.

A similar regime—which gives special powers to security services and places several curbs on the public—was in place in Chechnya between 1999 and 2009.

The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin had been informed of the cross-border incursion, adding Moscow believed the attack was designed to “divert attention” from Bakhmut.

Members of the anti-Kremlin “Freedom of Russia Legion” claimed responsibility for the attack.

After Putin sent troops to Ukraine, the border region of Belgorod has been repeatedly shelled, and dozens of people have been killed.

Ukraine’s army said earlier Monday that Russian forces pummelled Dnipro with 16 missiles and 20 attack drones overnight.

Miroslava Salazar with AFP