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June 13, 2024

Ukrainian Drones Strike Russian Energy Infrastructure in Escalating Conflict

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Jan 22, 2024

Ukrainian drones have struck key Russian energy infrastructure in recent days, causing fires at an oil depot and critical gas terminals. The attacks mark an escalation of Ukraine’s targeting of Russian assets and could disrupt vital energy exports.

Drone Attack Sets Fire to Oil Depot in Russian City of Klintsy

On January 18th, a Ukrainian drone dropped munitions on an oil storage facility in the Russian city of Klintsy, located near the Ukraine-Russia border. The attack sparked a massive fire that emergency crews battled throughout the night.

According to the governor of the Bryansk region where Klintsy is located, the fire destroyed two oil tanks holding up to 40,000 tons of fuel. Plumes of black smoke were visible from miles away.

While no casualties were reported, the oil depot is a crucial storage hub supplying Russian troops. The attack follows a strategy of dismantling the logistics sustaining Russia’s war effort in Ukraine.

“The military and logistical infrastructure supporting Russian troops in Ukraine continues to be a priority target for Ukrainian drones,” said Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister.

Baltic Sea Terminals Hit Disrupting Vital Gas Exports

On January 19th, a series of explosions erupted at the Ust-Luga fuel terminal on Russia’s Baltic Sea coast operated by Russian gas producer Novatek. The terminal handles significant liquefied natural gas (LNG) and oil condensate exports.

Fires burned out of control for several hours at the facility, which has suspended operations. Experts estimate it could take weeks or months before full operations resume.

Ust-Luga Terminal Importance

- Exports 40% of Russia's LNG
- Exports oil condensates used for petroleum products/plastics 
- Part of Russia's critical energy export infrastructure
- Disruption compromises key revenue source amid sanctions

The attack coincided with the arrival of a tanker to pick up an LNG shipment. Russia did not explicitly blame Ukraine, but Ukrainian officials are increasingly vocal about strikes inside Russia.

“We are taking the fight to them on their territory, hitting their critical infrastructure,” said a Ukrainian government advisor about the expanding drone campaign.

Meanwhile, Novatek indicated it will shift exports to the Baltic Sea port of Vysotsk and explore alternative transport routes. But analysts say operating at reduced capacity will hurt Russia’s budget and meet European demands.

Drones Opening New Front Alarming Russia

The latest incidents reveal Ukraine’s expanding use of explosive-laden drones from companies like Baykar to prosecute strategic attacks deeper inside Russia.

The Turkish-made Bayraktar TB-2 drone has spearheaded Ukrainian strikes on high-value military equipment and command posts. Modified drones using improvised munitions broaden the threat to infrastructure like power facilities, bridges, and transportation links supporting Russian forces.

Ukraine's Expanding Drone Capabilities

- Bayraktar TB-2 armed drones (Turkey)
- Modified commercial drones + improvised munitions 
- 300-800 km strike range 
- Strikes in Belgorod, Voronezh, Bryansk regions
- Targets like ammo depots, rail, power, fuel 

To counter Ukrainian drones, Russia has bolstered air defenses around crucial facilities and conducted artillery strikes on areas drones are staged and launched.

But the vast border and adaptability of cheap drones utilizing off-the-shelf components present a persistent menace experts say will only expand.

Protected energy infrastructure supporting Russia’s military is likely to remain priority targets for Ukrainian drones despite Russian countermeasures. Disrupting this critical lifeline could hamper Russia’s war capacity during ongoing winter offensives.

Outlook: Gearing Up for Protracted Disruptive Campaign

The widening Ukrainian drone strikes endangering Russian infrastructure underscore both sides are preparing for a drawn-out war of attrition according to military analysts.

Russia seeks to overwhelm Ukraine through superiority in artillery, missiles, aircraft, and sheer numbers – making logistics flow essential.

Unable to match Russia’s firepower, Ukraine’s strategy involves eroding that capacity by hitting staging areas with Himars rockets while using drones to attack supply lines.

“The drone attacks reveal increased capability to sustain irregular attacks across the vast border area that disrupt Russia’s ability to wage war,” notes Franz-Stefan Gady, an analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

With the Russian and Ukrainian economies increasingly on a war footing, the capacity to endure a grueling conflict has become a key battleground.

Expect escalatory bursts as both sides employ weapons like rockets, missiles, and sabotage drones to upend the adversary’s military campaign and undermine political will according to intelligence reports. Energy and transport infrastructure is likely to remain exposed as targeting systems improve.

While Russia tries suppressing launch areas and downing drones, Ukraine hopes persistent strikes against far-off logistics sites like oil depots, rail links, power stations and ammunition plants degrade Russia’s combat power – weakening prospects for renewed offensives or ultimate victory.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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