Russia’s Smolensk governor says Ukrainian drone sets fuel depot ablaze

By Thomson Reuters Apr 20, 2024 | 2:58 AM

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The governor of Russia’s western region of Smolensk said on Saturday that a Ukrainian drone hit a fuel depot overnight, setting it on fire, while an attack on the regional centre has been repelled.

Ukraine has stepped up its attacks on oil refineries in Russia, the world’s second largest oil exporter, since the start of the year in an attempt to reduce Moscow’s energy revenues and the amount of money it has to spend on the military.

There are no large oil refineries in the Smolensk region.

The governor, Vasily Anokhin, said on his Telegram messaging app that the drone attacked a fuel-energy facility in the Kardym region at 2 a.m. (2300 GMT on Friday), hitting a reservoir with fuel and oil lubricants. The firefighters were tackling the blaze, he added.

“As a result of the work of the air defence forces, the aircraft were shot down. However, as a result of falling debris, a tank with fuel and oil lubricants caught fire,” he said.

The governor also added that it was not clear if people were injured in the attack.

“Currently, an attempt to attack objects located on the territory of the regional centre has been repelled. Please remain calm and do not film the work of the air defence forces. Rescue and law enforcement services on are on the scene of events to ensure your safety,” he wrote in a separate message.

Russia says the drone attacks amount to terrorism.

Ukraine does not officially confirm or deny it is attacking refineries inside Russia, but says the facilities are legitimate targets which aid the Russian military effort at a time when Russian strikes are pounding Ukrainian cities and infrastructure, including energy facilities.

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Toby Chopra)