Retired U.S. Lieutenant General Ben Hodges Urges Ukraine To Ignore Joe Biden’s Warning And Keep Striking Russian Oil Refineries

Former Commanding General of U.S. Army Europe, Lieutenant General (Retired) Ben Hodges

Retired U.S. Lieutenant General Ben Hodges has said that Russia should ignore any request by Washington to stop striking oil facilities in Russia.

Drone strikes on energy facilities across a wide area of Russia in recent months have damaged sites that produce fuel that is both key for Russia’s war machine and the country’s exports.

Saturday’s drone strike on the Novokuibyshevsk Oil Refinery, which produces fuel for jet engines, missiles and cars in the Samara region, follows other attacks on energy infrastructure that have affected gasoline production.

Russian authorities blame Ukraine, although Kyiv typically does not take direct responsibility for attacks within Russian territory. Russia’s energy ministry said it was working with the National Guard—Rosgvardiya—to beef up security for refineries with missile defense systems.

But last week, the Financial Times reported that U.S. officials had asked Kyiv to halt the attacks for fear that oil prices might spike and Moscow might retaliate with strikes against infrastructure that the West relies on for energy supplies at a tricky time for President Joe Biden as he seeks re-election this year.

However, Hodges, who served as commanding general of the United States Army Europe between 2014 and 2018, insisted oil facilities in Russia are legitimate military targets.

According to a translation, “I hope that’s not true, but, unfortunately, you can believe it,” he told BBC Ukraine when asked about the report.

“If someone from our government reported this to Ukrainians, this is a terrible recommendation,” he said. “Ukraine must ignore it. [Refineries] are legitimate targets.”

Thomas O’Donnell, a Berlin-based energy analyst and global fellow at the Wilson Center, told Newsweek that Washington’s reported concerns that Ukrainian strikes on Russian oil facilities might increase energy prices in the U.S. and Europe were unfounded.

This is because if Russia was unable to refine all the oil that it produces it would have to choose between cutting back on the production of oil or increasing its exports.

“So if anything, that puts downward pressure on price and this would upset the OPEC and OPEC plus partners which have decided to continue (volume) cuts in force and into the summer and trying to boost the price,” O’Donnell said.

“So if Russia starts exporting more oil, that would put a monkey wrench in this and cause some friction,” he said.

“So far, all this is affecting Russia internally, which is completely legitimate. After all, Russia destroyed Ukraine’s refineries in the first year of the war. So fair is fair, and this is a matter of fuel needed for the war economy,” added O’Donnell.

Also in the BBC interview, Hodges said he wants the Democrat incumbent to stay in the White House.

“I hope that Biden will be re-elected, not because I support all of his policies, but because I think the Trump administration will be terrible for America and our democracy,” he said.

Hodges has repeatedly called for the U.S. and its allies to give Ukraine the full capabilities to strike targets in Crimea. He told the BBC that Trump’s return to the White House could harm NATO’s cohesion, given his criticism of the alliance.

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