Offensive maneuver comes as Russian forces regroup and Ukrainian troops press forward around Kyiv.
KYIV, Ukraine 01.04.22 —Ukrainian attack helicopters executed a low-flying predawn raid on Russian territory, Russian officials said, eluding air defenses to strike an oil depot as peace talks over the war resumed.
Security-camera footage released by Russian state-owned media channel RIA Novosti appeared to show several missiles firing at the depot and setting off explosions. Vyacheslav Gladkov, the regional governor of Belgorod, where the attack took place, wrote on social media that two Ukrainian helicopters carried out the operation.
“The helicopters struck a civilian oil storage facility on the outskirts of Belgorod,” Russia’s Ministry of Defense said. “As a result of the missile strike, some of the tanks were damaged and caught fire. Only civilian vehicles were supplied with fuel from this facility.”
Video shows large fires at Russian oil depot struck by Ukrainian helicopters, according to state media; Russian President Vladimir Putin said gas deliveries must be paid in rubles; Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed two senior security officials.
Belgorod is located close to the Ukrainian border with Russia and north of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city.
Ukrainian officials didn’t claim responsibility for the attack. “I can neither confirm nor reject the claim that Ukraine was involved in this simply because I do not possess all the military information,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned that the strike risked undermining diplomatic efforts to end the war.
“This is not something that can be perceived as creating comfortable conditions for the continuation of negotiations,” Mr. Peskov said Friday.
If confirmed, the Belgorod raid would be Kyiv’s second helicopter operation in as many days, following an attempt to penetrate Russian air defenses around the besieged city of Mariupol, along Ukraine’s Azov Sea coast.
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A fuel depot on fire in Belgorod, Russia. BELPRESSA/via REUTERS