Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused Ukrainian saboteurs of what he called a "terrorist" attack. He claims they targeted villagers in a shooting on Thursday in the region of Bryansk, near the border with Ukraine. The governor says two men were killed.
Putin said, "Today they committed another terrorist act, another crime, infiltrated the border area and opened fire on civilians." He vowed to crush those responsible.
Members of a Russian group opposed to Putin's government released a video saying they conducted an operation in the area. But they denied "fighting civilians." They said they went to "show their compatriots" they can "fight the regime."
An advisor to the Ukrainian president dismissed Putin's claim, saying it is a "classic deliberate provocation." Mykhailo Podolyak accused Putin of using scare tactics to justify his attacks on Ukraine.
Ukrainian leaders point to Russian attacks on civilians. Authorities in Zaporizhzhia said on Thursday that a missile strike on a residential building killed at least four people.
Residents of Bakhmut have seen their city reduced to rubble. Members of the Wagner mercenary force have spearheaded the assault. The founder of the group released video of fighters, claiming they have reached the city center.