Russia blames Ukraine for fuel depot explosion; Kyiv denied the role

 Russia blames Ukraine for fuel depot explosion;  Kyiv denied the role

A massive explosion broke out at a Russian fuel depot near the border early Friday, and Moscow said Ukraine had attacked the facility, but Kyiv denied any involvement. There has been no independent confirmation of details about the incident.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said two Ukrainian Mi-24 helicopters entered Russian airspace “at extremely low altitude” and struck a civilian oil storage facility on the outskirts of the city of Belgorod.

He said the facility was supplying petroleum only for civilian transport. The oil base has nothing to do with the Russian armed forces. ,

Regional government Vyacheslav Gladkov said two workers at the depot were injured, he said. But Russian media cited a statement by state-run oil company Rosneft, which denied any casualties.

The Belgorod mayor’s office said more than 300 firefighters extinguished the blaze using a helicopter and a special firefighting train. Gladkov said he met residents who had been moved from their homes to a nearby sports facility. He also posted pictures of potholes and pieces of metal in the countryside, where he said the explosions damaged a power line and broke a window.

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This would not be the first attack inside Russia since the war began on 24 February, although nothing dramatic has happened.

Ukraine’s National Security Council secretary Oleksiy Danilov denied Ukraine was responsible.

“For some reason, they say that we did this, but in fact it does not correspond to reality,” he said on Ukrainian television.

Earlier, adviser to the president, Oleksey Erestovich, said: “We are conducting a defensive operation on our territory. The Russian authorities take responsibility for everything that happens on Russian territory.”

Russian authorities “must find out what is happening in Belgorod,” he said. “Maybe someone smoked in the wrong place. Maybe there was something else. Russian soldiers might be breaking orders and don’t want to enter Ukrainian territory by available means.”

Any air strike inside Russia would require efficient flight to escape its air defenses.

The blast elicited a tacit response from the Kremlin, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying it was not helpful for talks with Ukraine.

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On Russian social media, some users expressed surprise that Ukraine was still able to mount such an attack or surpass Russian air defenses. Russia’s daily video briefings from the Defense Ministry often emphasize the number of Ukrainian planes and helicopters that were shot down or destroyed.

Belgorod is about 25 kilometers (16 mi) from the border and just opposite Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, which has been under Russian bombardment since the early stages of the war.

Earlier events in the Belgorod region caused alarm at the local level, but had little wider resonance in the context of the war, which Russia describes as a “special military operation”, with little impact on the lives of ordinary citizens. Does matter.

On the first day of the battle, three people were reported wounded from shelling in Belgorod, although there was no independent confirmation of this. A statement from Russia’s State Investigative Committee said two adults and a child were injured, and that an investigation into attempted murder was launched.

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A further criminal investigation by the committee was opened on 1 March following a report that two Ukrainian missiles from an Urgan launcher had landed in a rural area. That report was also not independently confirmed.

Gladkov said last week that a bullet fired from Ukraine had exploded in a village in the Belgorod region that the Russian Orthodox Church said had killed a military pastor. There is a report of damage to the house in a similar incident. There was no independent confirmation of those reports.

Other explosions were due on 29 March, which Gladkov said had caught fire in a munitions shop in the border village of Krasny Oktyabr, citing “unverified information” he had heard. Ukraine was not to blame for the incident and Gladkov said he was waiting for an official comment from the Defense Ministry, although none complied and the cause of the fire remained unclear.

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