An oil refinery in Russia was hit by another drone attack on Friday, causing an explosion and fire that officials are blaming on “saboteurs.”
After four drones attacked the Ilsky oil refinery on Wednesday in the Krasnodar region, causing a fire to spark as the result of the almost hour-long attack, it was hit again Friday and suffered another explosion and fire.
The attacks come after a slew of mysterious fires in Russia since it invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Fires have broken out at an oil depot, a research institution, an ammunition depot and other prominent locations. There has been an uptick in drone attacks recently, as well, with many of the attacks targeting Russian oil facilities.
Friday’s attack caused an explosion and a fire that covered more than 600 square feet. Latvian news website Meduza reported that the flames were extinguished and nobody was injured.
Online Russian news channel Mash posted on Telegram that a “group of saboteurs” carried out the attacks on the Ilsky refinery. The attackers allegedly were detained.
“They tried to escape from the scene of the incident through the pipeline,” the post said. “Employees of the refinery say that the saboteurs blew up the fifth unit with the help of IEDs.”
Two drones also allegedly tried to attack the Kremlin on Wednesday night in what Russian leaders are deeming a “terrorist act.” The drones were shot down by Russian military before causing any damage. The Kremlin said the attacks were an attempt to assassinate Putin.
“We regard these actions as a planned terrorist act and an attempt on the life of the President of the Russian Federation, carried out on the eve of Victory Day, the May 9 parade, at which the presence of foreign guests is also planned,” the Kremlin said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denied ordering the attacks during a recent trip to Finland.
“We are not attacking either Putin or Moscow,” Zelensky said. “We are fighting for our own territory, defending our villages and towns. We don’t have enough weapons to do this; we have a shortage of weapons.”
Center for Strategic and International Studies senior adviser Mark Cancian told Newsweek that while it is possible Ukraine was behind the attacks by increasing its long-range drone capability, it’s also possible that drone attacks are a series of “Russian false flag operations.”
Newsweek reported that Russia might use the attacks as justification for increasing its military actions as a means of retaliation in Ukraine.
“The key thing to watch for,” Cancian said, “is whether Russia can produce some tangible evidence like wreckage that clearly indicates a Ukrainian origin.”
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