Belgium is concerned over reports claiming arms it sent to Kiev were used in raids on Russian territory, local media said FILE PHOTO. © Sputnik / Russian Defense Ministry
Brussels is concerned over media reports claiming that weapons it sent to Kiev were used by militants to launch incursions into Russia, several Belgian media outlets reported on Sunday, adding that the government will demand an official explanation from Ukraine on the issue.
Belgian Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder and Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib will “contact the Ukrainian authorities and ask for clarifications,” the defense minister’s office confirmed to Belgium’s RTBF broadcaster.
The documents accompanying each weapons delivery from Belgium “explicitly state” that the military equipment can only be distributed to the regular armed forces and used only to “defend” Ukrainian territory, the media added.
“These weapons are therefore not authorized for isolated groups that have an internal Russian agenda,” a Belgian official told another local media outlet, Le Soir. The Belgian media also described the ‘Freedom of Russia Legion’ and the ‘Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK)’ – two Kiev-backed militant groups that are said to be in possession of Western arms – as groups that have “neo-Nazi” members within their ranks.
Western weapons used in Ukrainian raid inside Russia – WaPo
The RDK and the ‘Freedom of Russia Legion’ were responsible for several incursions into Russian territory in March and May 2023. Photos and videos published by the militants from their raid last month, as well as images released by the Russian Defense Ministry in the wake of the clashes with the militants, suggested that their sabotage groups made use of US and Polish armored vehicles, as well as Belgian and Czech assault rifles.
The Pentagon and the US State Department expressed doubts regarding the authenticity of the images. On Saturday, the Washington Post reported, citing sources linked to US intelligence, that the militants did use weapons and heavy equipment supplied to Kiev by their Western backers.
The May raid ended up with the Russian forces killing “over 70 Ukrainian terrorists” and destroying “four armored combat vehicles, and five pickup trucks,” the Russian Defense Ministry said at that time. The incursion resulted in one civilian death and 12 injuries, according to Russian authorities.
On Sunday, the two militant groups sought to launch another cross-border raid into Russia’s Belgorod Region, its governor said. The militants were “dispersed” and pushed back into Ukrainian territory, the defense ministry said later the same day.