Ukraine’s kamikaze drones blew up Russia’s oil refinery in Smolensk and Voronezh regions

Ukraine launched drone attacks on several Russian oil refineries overnight, Russian sources said on Wednesday, despite pushback from Washington urging Kyiv to reel in its strikes on Moscow’s oil infrastructure.

Russia’s defense ministry said its air defenses had intercepted two Ukrainian uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) over the Voronezh region bordering northeast Ukraine, another over the Smolensk region southwest of Moscow, and two over the border Belgorod region close to Ukraine.

Ukrainian drones, operated by the SBU security service, struck Russian oil facilities in the Smolensk and Voronezh regions overnight on April 24.

“Our region is again under attack by Ukrainian UAVs,” Smolensk Governor Vasily Anokhin said in a post to messaging app Telegram early on Wednesday. Fires broke out around the city of Smolensk and in a town to the east of the city “as a result of an enemy attack on civilian fuel and energy facilities,” Anokhin said. There were no casualties, he said in a later statement.

Aleksandr Gusev, the head of the Voronezh region, said four drones were intercepted over the area, reporting damage to at least two private buildings. Igor Artamonov, who heads the Lipetsk region, said Ukraine “attempted to strike at the infrastructure in the industrial zone of Lipetsk.”

Russian independent outlet Astra shared footage purporting to show fires blazing at oil refineries in Voronezh and Smolensk, adding that local residents reported an attack on one of Russia’s largest steel factories in the city of Lipetsk. Ukraine targeted the plant earlier this year.

Kyiv has been consistently targeting Russia’s oil refineries with long-range drones, denting Russia’s oil exports in the hope of cutting off resources Moscow can channel into its war effort. Russia’s oil sector is under Western sanctions, but it still holds a major position in the global market.

Russia has also repeatedly targeted Ukraine’s critical energy infrastructure, including destroying a major power plant near the Ukrainian capital earlier this month.

In March, the Financial Times reported that the U.S. had pushed Ukraine to stop its attacks on Russia’s oil refineries for fear of spikes in global oil prices and the risk of Russian retaliation.

Ukrainian strikes inside internationally recognized Russian territory can be a sticking point between Kyiv and its allies. Ukraine typically will not take official responsibility for attacks over the border.

But Olha Stefanishyna, a Ukrainian deputy prime minister, said last month that Russian oil refineries were legitimate military targets for Ukraine.

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