An oil storage depot was on fire in a Russian city just north of Ukraine on Friday after what the local governor said was an attack by two Ukrainian helicopters.
A video shared on Twitter shows what appears to be helicopters attacking the depot in Belgorod some 40km (25 miles) from the border.
️⭕️🇷🇺#Russia: In Belgorod, 8 tanks with fuel volume of 2,000 cubic metres each are burning, there is a threat of fire switching to another 8 – Russian emergency services
👉The attack was executed-by 2 helicopters of 🇺🇦#Ukraine’s forces pic.twitter.com/PFQKxRwVqr
— 🅻-🆃🅴🅰🅼 (@L_Team10) April 1, 2022
A huge blaze followed near apartment blocks in the city.
"The emergency services went to the place of fire, measures are being taken to eliminate it", said Gladkov, the governor of the region in his Telegram channel. pic.twitter.com/ey7rC5ChSz
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) April 1, 2022
Ukraine has not confirmed that it launched the attack, but if it did, it would be the first time that Ukrainian aircraft have flown into Russian airspace to hit a target bringing the war home to Russia.
“The fire at the oil depot occurred as a result of an airstrike from two helicopters of the armed forces of Ukraine, which entered the territory of Russia at low altitude,” said governor Vyacheslav Gladkov, and adds that “There are no victims.”
An explosion also took place earlier on Thursday at the site of an arms depot in Belgorod, raising speculation that saboteurs were targeting the city, which has served as a major hub for Russian military units involved in the invasion of Ukraine.
Russia blames Ukraine for the attack on the oil depot
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman blamed Ukraine for the fire and said the “airstrike” did not create comfortable conditions to continue peace talks with Kyiv. So far, those talks have made little progress.
The spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the Russian authorities were doing everything to reorganize the fuel supply chain and avoid disruption of energy supplies in Belgorod. He asserted that President Putin had been briefed on the situation.
The city of 370,000 lies just north of Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, which has been heavily shelled by Russian artillery and remains surrounded by Russian forces.
Interfax news agency has reported that nearby residents were evacuated, and two people were injured at the depot. The agency claims that eight fuel tanks caught fire and nearly 200 firefighters were on the scene. The depot is run by Russian state oil firm Rosneft.
Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency later assured that the blaze in three of the tanks had been extinguished, but there was still a risk of the fire spreading.