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Massive fire seen as Ukraine hits Russian oil depots with a drone strike

Russia to up attacks on Ukraine arms storage
Russia aims to ramp up strikes on arms storage in Ukraine 04:51

Ukraine's national security service said Wednesday that it had struck two Russian state-owned oil depots in the western Russian region of Smolensk. The Reuters news agency quoted a Ukrainian intelligence official as saying the drone strike had destroyed more than 26,000 cubic meters — slightly less than 1 million cubic feet — of fuel at the depots owned by Russia's Rosneft energy corporation.

Unverified videos published on social media showed huge fires and columns of thick black smoke rising from what appeared to be two oil storage tanks at one of the facilities, which are west of Moscow near the country's borders with Belarus and Ukraine

The governor of Russia's Smolensk region, Vasily Anothkin, first announced the strike early Wednesday on social media, saying his "region was again targeted by Ukrainian drone attacks."

Anothkin said no one was injured in the attack, but "fire did erupt on the civilian infrastructure."

A video screengrab shows a large fire burning at what was reportedly a state-owned oil storage depot in Yartsevo, Smolensk Oblast, Russia, after a Ukrainian drone attack, April 24, 2024. Reuters

He offered an update later Wednesday to say the "fire has been localized," indicating there was no longer a threat of the blaze spreading beyond the premises.

Officials in Russia's Voronezh and Lipetsk regions, south of Smolensk, also reported drone attacks on industrial zones.

Lipetsk governor Igor Artamanov said in a social media post Wednesday that no residential buildings were hit when the "Ukrainian regime attempted to strike at the infrastructure in the industrial zone" of his region. He said there were no casualties.

Since President Vladimir Putin ordered the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russia's forces have systematically targeted Ukrainian energy, transport and food production infrastructure.

Ukraine-Russia map
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In recent months, Ukraine has claimed a series of drone attacks inside Russia, mostly targeting the country's oil infrastructure.

The Ukrainian intelligence source who spoke to Reuters on Wednesday was quoted as saying that Ukraine's military, "continues to effectively destroy military infrastructure and logistics that provide fuel to the Russian army in Ukraine… These facilities are and will remain our absolutely legitimate targets."

Last week, Russia's Defense Ministry claimed to have shot down 50 Ukrainian drones over eight regions, including in Moscow.

U.S. officials have previously criticized Ukraine's attacks on Russia's oil installations, warning that they could disrupt global energy markets and urging the country to focus instead on targeting Russian military infrastructure.

In an interview with the Washington Post last month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stressed that Ukraine has the right to use its weapons in self-defense in the manner it sees fit.

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