Russia’s Vladimir Putin has called an emergency meeting of the Security Council after a supposed attack by Ukrainian saboteurs on Russian territory early Thursday that was apparently led by a notorious Russian nationalist.
Lawmakers confirmed the meeting shortly after Russian propaganda outlets churned out a hodgepodge of horror stories claiming Ukrainian “saboteurs” had burst into the Bryansk region on the border, shot up a bus, and taken hostages.
In a huge plot twist, however, a group of Russians led by a well-known Russian nationalist claimed they were behind the attack.
The story of an attack by “Ukrainian saboteurs” is “all a lie by Kremlin propagandists,” the group said on Telegram.
“We’re not at war with civilians. We don’t kill those who are unarmed,” a man said in a video, purportedly from the scene in Bryansk, shared by the Russian Volunteer Corps.
“The time has come for ordinary Russian citizens to understand they are not slaves. Rise up and fight,” he said.
Multiple independent Russian outlets identified the man as none other than Denis Kapustin, otherwise known as “White Rex,” a Russian neo-Nazi who just a few months ago admitted to previously cooperating with Russian security services.
He told Russian journalist Oleg Kashin that he was forced to act as an “an agent of the Kremlin” when he used to organize mixed martial arts tournaments throughout Russia.
He said he was “invited” to Ukraine in 2015 and in 2017 made his way there to join Ukrainian troops fighting against Russia.
Ukrainian authorities have denied involvement in events in Bryansk, saying it is either a “provocation” by the Kremlin or an act carried out by Russian partisans.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters the Security Council meeting would be held Friday and that it was not yet clear if the “terrorist attack”’ would “influence a change to the status of the ‘special military operation’” against Ukraine.
There were conflicting accounts on the situation. Citing unnamed emergency services sources, the state-run news agency RIA Novosti said preliminary information suggests “several people were captured in a store” in the village of Lyubechane. The supposed Ukrainian attackers also were said to have invaded the nearby village of Sushany. The state news agency also reported the FSB confirmed that “measures are being taken to destroy armed Ukrainian nationalists who have violated the state border.”
Gov. Alexander Bogomaz said the Ukrainian attackers had targeted a vehicle, leaving one dead and a child wounded. Several Russian propaganda outlets claimed it was actually a school bus that had been attacked, though local authorities denied that.
Details on the number of supposed hostages also differed wildly, with some pro-Kremlin outlets panicking over 100 hostages, while other accounts said there were only six. The culprits were described as a group of between 40 and 50 Ukrainian attackers.
Bizarrely, the head of the Novoropsk rural administration—where Sushany is located—could not confirm a hostage situation when asked by RT, according to RBC. “No one told us that there were hostages,” the official was quoted as saying.