Ukrainian Helicopters Alledely Attack Russian Oil Depot in Belgorod – Ukrainian attack helicopters allegedly attacked an oil depot in the Russian city of Belgorod setting it ablaze as they brought the war to the Russian side of the border for a brief moment.
If confirmed, it was the first attack by Ukrainian forces on Russian territory since the war began in late February. Belgorod governor Viacheslav Gladkov posted on the Telegram messaging app that two helicopters flew low over Russian territory and hit the oil depot.
“The fire at the oil depot occurred as a result of an airstrike coming from two helicopters of the Ukrainian Armed Forces which entered the territory of the Russian Federation flying at a low altitude. There are no victims,” said Gladkov.
The fires from the oil depot had spread and are thought to be responsible for a fire at a nearby ammunition depot, although that too may have been targeted as well during the Ukrainian airstrike. There were several blasts reported coming from there.
The missiles caused a huge explosion which in turn ignited several oil storage tanks. TASS the state-run Russian news organization said that the fire engulfed fuel reservoirs according to the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations.
A video that was posted on Twitter showed missiles hitting the tanks and the fires engulfing the depot. 1945 was unable to verify any of the recent footage.
Eight fuel storage tanks containing more than 3.52 million gallons of oil were on fire and there is a threat of the fire spreading to another eight tanks, emergency services officials said, according to RIA Novosti.
The Russian oil company Rosneft, which owns the fuel depot, said in a separate statement that no one was hurt in the fire. Al Jazeera reported that fires are still blazing at the oil facility and that 200 Russian firefighters consisting of 60 different special units are on the scene and fighting to control the blaze.
The Ukrainian armed forces had “no comment or information” on the airstrike with some claiming it was a false flag operation to justify a larger Russian attack on Ukraine. While the operation is the only strike conducted on Russian territory, it was more than just a symbolic gesture by the Ukrainians.
The Russian military, however, continues to insist that they have complete air superiority over the Ukrainians, despite this airstrike occurring in Belgorod, which is about 25 miles from the border between the two countries.
“Air superiority during an operation is an absolute fact,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “And as for what happened, it probably should not be us giving out assessments, but our law enforcement agencies.”
Since the war began, Russian forces have been beset by fuel and supply problems, with many of their large columns of armored vehicles being stagnant without fuel on the road outside of Kyiv. By targeting the oil depot, while not a crippling blow to the Russian military, the Ukrainians have definitely decided that this will further cause Russian supply issues to continue.
Russia Responds? Putin Is Informed of the Airstrike
Kremlin spokesman Peskov said that Russian authorities were working to reorganize the fuel supply chain and avoid further disruption of energy supplies in Belgorod. He said that President Vladimir Putin was informed of the airstrike.
“The president was informed about Belgorod,” Peskov said during a conference call with members of the media. “You know that the Ministry of Emergency Situations was sent there. Steps are being taken to re-organize fuel supply points so that what happened in no case affects the level of supply of all necessary types of fuel.”
Belgorod was used by the Russians as a staging area for their assault troops prior to the invasion and from there, they attacked in the direction of Kharkiv.
Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He has served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 19fortyfive.com, he has covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for more than 10 years and his work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.