An explosion at an oil depot shook southwestern Russia in the early hours of this morning. Fire raged in the Oryol region, a hub for pipelines exporting to Belarus, moments after a Ukrainian drone damaged a fuel tank just before 4 a.m. local time.
Footage shared on Telegram showed large flames piercing through the black sky above the facility. Emergency services rushed to the site to prevent the fire from spreading to nearby buildings.
‘There are no casualties, all emergency services are working on the territory of the facility,’ the governor of the Oryol region, Andrei Klychkov, said on Telegram.
He did not specify whether the depot was hit by falling debris or targeted by the drone. Attacks deep inside Russia, far from the frontlines, have increased in recent weeks.
Moscow was also targeted by a wave of Ukrainian drones in the early hours of today.
Mayor Sergey Sobyanin confirmed two drones were shot down above the Istra and the Ramensky districts in the Russian capital. All flights were delayed and later canceled at the major airports, Russian state news agencies said – a frequent move by aviation authorities during drone strikes.
Meanwhile, Russia’s defense ministry said air defense systems destroyed at least two drones targeting Crimea from different directions, but four drones were able to hit the targets.
The report on the Telegram messaging app did not say if there was any damage or casualties in the peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Fuel shortage in Russia
Russia, one of the world’s biggest oil producers, has faced shortages of fuel crucial for gathering the harvest in some parts of its southern breadbasket and the situation may get worse in coming months, market sources told Reuters.
Traders said that the fuel market has been hit by a combination of different factors including maintenance at oil refineries, infrastructure bottlenecks on railways, and the weaker rouble which incentivizes fuel exports.
Russia has tried to tackle diesel and gasoline shortages over recent months, contemplating export curbs as the last-ditch attempt to prevent a serious fuel crisis – which is sensitive for the Kremlin ahead of a presidential election in March.
A government decision to cut subsidies for refineries is likely to worsen the availability of fuel in the world’s biggest grain exporter.
Regional oil product depots in Russia’s southern regions have had to cut or even suspend fuel sales, while retail filling stations were forced to limit fuel sale volumes to customers.
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