Russia Blames Ukraine After Belgorod Fuel Depot Explodes
BELGOROD, RUSSIA - APRIL 1 : An image of damage after Regional Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov says that helicopters of the Ukrainian Army hit the oil refinery in Belgorod, Russia on April 1, 2022. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

An oil depot in the Russian city of Belgorod, located about 22 miles from Ukraine’s border, erupted Friday morning after a pair of Ukrainian helicopters hit it with missiles, Russian officials claimed.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Friday that two Ukrainian Mi-24 helicopters entered Russian airspace early Friday morning, slipped past Russia’s defenses, and attacked the civilian fuel depot. Konashenkov said that the fuel storage facility held only fuel for civilian use, not the military, according to the Associated Press.

“The helicopters struck a civilian oil storage facility on the outskirts of Belgorod,” Russia’s Ministry of Defense said, according to The Wall Street Journal. “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.”

A top Ukrainian national security official denied Russia’s claims about Ukraine’s involvement, according to the AP. Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s national security council, said during a television appearance: “For some reason, they say that we did it, but in fact this does not correspond with reality.”

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovich had earlier suggested that Russia was responsible. “We are carrying out defensive operations on our territory. Russian authorities bear responsibility for everything that happens at Russian territory,” Arestovich said.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba hedged his response to the news, however, neither confirming nor denying any Ukraine involvement in the alleged strike. “I can neither confirm nor reject the claim that Ukraine was involved in this simply because I do not possess all the military information,” the minister said, according to WSJ.

Negotiations between Ukraine and Russia to end the war began earlier this week. Russia said that its forces would be pulling back from areas around Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv in a show of good faith during negotiations. U.S. officials said the withdrawal is likely a temporary pause for the Russians to refuel and reorganize.

A Kremlin spokesman suggested that the alleged attack on the Belgorod fuel depot would have a negative impact on negotiations. “This is not something that can be perceived as creating comfortable conditions for the continuation of negotiations,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to WSJ.

Department of Defense Press Secretary John Kirby said Tuesday that Russia’s overtures of a withdrawal are likely being made in bad faith.

“There’s been a lot of reporting today on withdraws and, you know, Russian decisions, and I think it’s really important that we put a little bit of this into context,” Kirby said, later adding: “Nobody should be fooling ourselves by the Kremlin’s now-recent claim that it will suddenly just reduce military attacks near Kyiv, or any reports that it’s going to withdraw all its forces.”

“We all should be prepared to watch for a major offensive against other areas of Ukraine,” he added.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Russia Blames Ukraine After Belgorod Fuel Depot Explodes