Friday, May 24, 2024

Ukrainian drones strike Russian oil facilities

Ukrainian drones have targeted energy infrastructure in Russia’s Smolensk Region, local Governor Vasily Anokhin has stated.

“Our region is again under attack by Ukrainian UAVs,” Anokhin wrote on Telegram at around 5am local time, adding that Russian air defenses were responding to the situation.

The drone attack targeted “civilian fuel and energy facilities” and resulted in several fires in the Smolensky and Yartsevsky districts, according to the official. Firefighters are tackling the blaze, Anokhin stated, urging the residents to remain calm.

Smolensk Region is around 300 kilometers southeast of Moscow and borders Belarus. The distance from the city of Smolensk to the border with Ukraine is 400km.

Ukraine attempted to bomb another undisclosed oil facility in Smolensk last week. The drones were downed, but debris fell onto a storage unit of oil and lubricants, resulting in a small fire, according to Anokhin.

On Saturday, Russian air defenses intercepted several Ukrainian drone raids across the western part of the country, destroying some 50 UAVs over the border regions of Belgorod, Bryansk and Kursk, and also deeper into Russia – in Smolensk, Ryazan, Kaluga, and Moscow Regions.

Since January, Ukraine has launched a series of long-range attacks on Russian energy facilities, including oil depots and refineries, using kamikaze drones. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has suggested the strikes are meant to impress Kiev’s Western backers to compensate for a lack of progress on the frontline.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that US Vice President Kamala Harris met privately with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference in February, telling him to refrain from targeting Russian oil refineries. President Joe Biden’s administration reportedly believes that such attacks could raise global energy prices and provoke a massive Russian retaliation.

According to the media outlet, the Ukrainian head of state “brushed off the recommendation”. Despite the US becoming more and more insistent over the following weeks, Kiev doubled down on its strategy.

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