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What is the Freedom of Russia Legion and how does it plan to end Putin’s reign?

Putin may have survived the Wagner uprising, but he is not out of the woods yet. There is another group of Russian fighters who are hell-bent on bringing down his dictatorship. They are the Freedom of Russia Legion, and they have a solid plan to achieve their mission. In this thrilling new story, you will discover who they are, what they want, and how they are going to challenge Putin’s rule. Don’t miss this epic narrative of rebellion and resistance 🤬🥊🚫

By InfoPublished 7 months ago 9 min read
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Freedom of Russia Legion X Stop Putin 🤬🥊🚫

Putin may have survived the Wagner uprising, but he is not out of the woods yet. There is another group of Russian fighters who are hell-bent on bringing down his dictatorship. They are the Freedom of Russia Legion, and they have a solid plan to achieve their mission. In this thrilling new story, you will discover who they are, what they want, and how they are going to challenge Putin’s rule. Don’t miss this epic narrative of rebellion and resistance 🤬🥊🚫

The Free Russia Legion: The Russian Rebels Fighting Against Putin and For Ukraine 🤬🥊🚫

The Free Russia Legion: The Russian Rebels Fighting Against Putin and For Ukraine

Russia may have the distinct honor of being the only country in modern history to invade another country only to be invaded back- by its own people. And not just once or twice, but multiple times. While the short-lived Wagner rebellion may not have toppled Putin, another group of battle-hardened Russians are determined to see the end of Putin’s regime. This is the Freedom of Russia Legion, and they have a pretty good chance of achieving their goals.

Who are the Freedom of Russia Legion? 🤬🥊🚫

Who are the Freedom of Russia Legion?

The Freedom of Russia Legion, or Free Russia Legion, was established shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Many Russians were angered over Putin’s decision to initiate his “Special Military Operation,” and while hundreds of thousands took to the streets, they were quickly subjugated with harsh police actions. Now the simple act of holding a blank piece of paper in public can land you in jail in Russia, and even children have been jailed for making or drawing pro-Ukrainian statements. Wagner’s rebellion has only made Putin tighten his grip on the Russian people, with the Kremlin slow to roll back emergency powers granted to its police forces, such as the right to enter any home at any time and search it.

This has many Russians too fearful to protest the ongoing war, but some Russians are willing to do more than protest and believe that it’s up to them to use deadly force to end Putin’s reign for good.

Officially, they are known as foreign volunteer legions, but multiple all-Russian, or mostly Russian groups have formed in the wake of Putin’s invasion. The most well known of these are:

  • The Russian Volunteers Corps, which harbors some disturbing far right ideologies
  • The Freedom of Russia Legion, which seeks to restore true democracy to Putin’s corrupt kleptocracy

The enemy of my enemy is my friend though, and the two groups share similar aims- at least for now.

These however are not the only anti-government forces to spring up in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine. Putin’s foolish invasion has led to the rise of a patchwork group of anti-government groups- some have moved out of the country to fight alongside Ukraine, but many others have remained to fight from within. This includes everything from pro-democracy activists to anarcho-communists, all pulling in the same direction: end Putin’s reign and hamstring the military’s efforts in Ukraine. A wave of sabotage has taken place across the country since the start of the war, with not a week going by without another mysterious fire or explosion rocking Russian bridges, industrial sites, and even shopping centers. In just the first few months of 2023, Ukrainian intelligence reported nearly 100 acts of sabotage inside Russia, and you only need to turn to Russian media for verification of these high-profile attacks. While many have been only moderate annoyances to the war effort, some have had serious consequences- such as explosions and fires at industrial centers directly responsible for supplying the troops on the frontlines.

As explained by the Free Russia Legion itself, the effort to overthrow Putin and stop the war is largely decentralized, with only an estimated 50% of the attacks being coordinated between the various groups. Anti-government groups have largely carried out independent operations, and Russian partisans as well as Ukrainian intelligence have been all too happy to aid them by publicly publishing manuals on everything from guerilla tactics to the fabrication of homemade explosives. There is nothing that the American CIA loves more than to see Russian targets burn, and it’s rumored that groups like the Free Russia Legion and others have enjoyed support from America’s most clandestine services.

It’s exactly the decentralized nature of the ongoing wave of attacks that have made it so difficult for Russia to stop them.

How did they raid Belgorod? 🤬🥊🚫

How did they raid Belgorod?

The Free Russia Legion however is a cut above these domestic insurgent groups. It’s true numbers are unknown, but believed to be around 500 to 1,000 fighters, and the group claims that it has thousands more in the training and equipping pipeline. The has also been boasting about its equipment, showing off armored vehicles, man portable air defense missiles, anti-tank weapons, and artillery- and they’re not lying either, with at least two tanks confirmed to be spear heading the assault of the Belgorod region in late May by the Free Russia Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps. For many, the question is how this group of Russian partisans got their hands on American anti-tank missiles and vehicles, to which the Free Russia Legion has jokingly answered that they bought them from local department stores. This answer was in direct relation to Putin defending his position that he had no links to the allegedly “independent” guerilla fighters who invaded Crimea and helped secure it in 2014, equipped with a wide range of Russian military equipment.

The Free Russia Legion has largely been confined to fighting along the Bakhmut axis since August of 2022, but towards the end of spring left the region to prepare for an infiltration into Russia itself. Whether they planned this on their own or were influenced by Ukrainian or western intelligence is unknown, but what is known is that Russia has left its borders with Ukraine criminally undefended. That’s because Russia is counting on Ukraine not wishing to anger its western allies, who have repeatedly stated they do not support any military operations on Russian soil itself and have given weapons with the stipulation that they not be used inside Russia. The fear of course is that such attacks would provoke more imaginary escalation, though there is significant reason to fear that a major incursion into Russia by the Ukrainian military would result in Putin using nuclear weapons.

That’s because it turns out that Russia is so dependent on Ukraine’s promise to not cross its borders that it’s not defending it at all.

While groups had carried out cross-border raids before, the Freedom for Russia Legion and Russian Volunteer Corps led a brazen assault into the Belgorod region in late May. The Kremlin was caught completely unprepared for a fighting force made up of an estimated two or three tanks and a dozen or so armored vehicles with more unarmored vehicles like American Humvees. By the time any response had been put together, the groups had taken multiple Russian villages, prompting a mass panic in the region that even the Kremlin’s tight control over Russia media couldn’t completely bottle up. The forces it did send to repel the attack were by all accounts absolutely hammered by the far better trained and equipped Russian partisans, with multiple Russian soldiers complaining publicly or over social media about being soundly defeated due to a lack of training, equipment, or support. One soldier claimed his unit had as many as 80% casualties.

It’s difficult to peer through the fog of war to verify any of this information, but the fact that the two groups made off with a few Russian armored vehicles and stayed in occupied territory for multiple days before retreating across the border again gives a significant amount of legitimacy to the claims of Russian forces being roundly defeated.

What are their goals and impact 🤬🥊🚫

What are their goals and impact?

The brazen attack and occupation of Belgorod achieved two goals for the Free Russia Legion. The first was to directly support the Ukrainian counterattack. The group has publicly stated that they have two ultimate goals:

  • The first is to create a buffer zone on the Ukrainian border, thus denying Russian forces the ability to launch long-range attacks into Ukraine from territory that Ukraine is denied from attacking by its western allies. Creating a buffer zone along the north of Ukraine would significantly cut into Russia’s ability to fire shorter range missiles at Ukrainian cities like Kyiv and have a dramatic impact on limiting civilian casualties. It would also allow Ukraine to move more of its western air defenses near the front, where they are badly needed.
  • The second is to march on Moscow itself, but currently they lack the numbers. Judging by Vladimir Vasylivich Putin practically begging Wagner on Russian television to stop their march on Moscow though, the Free Russia Legion only needs a few thousand more soldiers to achieve this goal. But getting those soldiers is what the invasion of Belgorod was meant to help with, because the brazen multi-day occupation put the Legion on the map, and proved that it’s a capable fighting force. It also proved that inside his own borders, Putin is far weaker than many Russians unhappy with his regime might realize. Since the attack, the legion claims that recruitment has skyrocketed.

The attack on Belgorod was also meant to directly aid the Ukrainian counteroffensive currently in its opening stages. As we’ve mentioned, Russia has basically left its borders with Ukraine completely undefended, and this has allowed it to concentrate firepower along the front inside Ukraine itself while leaving its own borders unprotected. The Russian Volunteer Corps and Freedom of Russia Legion’s attack into Belgorod though proved that the border was porous, and there were some groups out there willing to fight inside Russian soil.

The public response to the occupation went a long ways towards changing priorities in the Kremlin, and every soldier relocated from the front to guard the border is one less soldier that Ukraine needs to face on the battlefield. However, Wagner’s mutinous march on Moscow proved just how weak Russia was internally- no one is yet sure why Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin truly canceled his march on the capital, but it’s widely accepted that he had more than enough firepower to succeed. In our own observations during the apparent coup, we noted that while there were plenty of tanks and infantry fighting vehicles present amongst Wagner’s columns, the heaviest combat vehicles spotted along Moscow’s defenses were armored personnel carriers- which would have been easy prey to Wagner’s tanks and IFVs. This makes it clear that Russia has a critical shortage of heavy combat equipment and troops inside its own borders, and the nation today is being forced to reckon with the need to pull equipment and troops off the frontline to secure the homeland.

📝 SOURCES

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