A shooting broke out during a Russian military training session on Saturday resulting in numerous casualties, according to a Russian-state media outlet.
The incident took place during a training session at a firing range in the Belgorod region, which is located along the country’s border with Ukraine near the city of Kharkiv. According to TASS, a state-run Russian news agency, the Ministry of Defense confirmed the shooting to reporters, claiming that two individuals from an unspecified country in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a collective of Russia and several other former Soviet republics, opened fire on the training exercise.
“On October 15, two citizens of one of the CIS countries committed a terrorist act at the training ground of the Western Military District in the Belgorod Region,” representatives for the Ministry of Defense said. “As a result of the shooting, 11 people were fatally injured. Another 15 people with injuries of varying severity were taken to a medical facility, where they receive all the necessary assistance.”
The ministry further said that the two shooters used small firearms to carry out the assault, and targeted prospective volunteer combatants. Identities have not been disclosed for the attackers, who were reportedly killed by return fire. Subsequent reports have indicated that the shooters were volunteer soldiers themselves. The situation is now under investigation by local law enforcement.
This incident comes amid a massive military mobilization effort in Russia, with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month ordering the country’s first partial mobilization since World War II to aid his ailing invasion of Ukraine. The mobilization sparked immense controversy and backlash in Moscow, with protests erupting in numerous regions and attacks being carried out against government and military buildings. Hundreds of thousands of military-aged men have also begun fleeing the country to avoid being drafted.
On Friday, Putin said that around 220,000 reservists had been called into duty, with the country’s ultimate goal being the mobilization of 300,000.
This massive and unpopular effort has led to numerous hiccups in the recruitment process, with draft notices being sent to some Russian men who do not meet the qualifications for military service, be it due to advanced age or physical ability. As a result, many reservists who have arrived for duty have been sent home as the military pledged to tighten up its efforts.
A report from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) on Thursday also indicated that the Russian military is currently experiencing further difficulties. At least five men have already been killed in Ukraine after being conscripted as part of the partial mobilization. Meanwhile, reports have also emerged online of Russian soldiers surrendering on the battlefield.