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Explosions at fuel depots in Russia’s Bryansk: what we know so far

Bryansk fuel depots
Oil depots on fire in Bryansk, Russia, on the morning of 25 April 2022. Screenshot from a social media video.
Explosions at fuel depots in Russia’s Bryansk: what we know so far
In the early hours of 25 April, two Russian fuel depots caught fire in the northwestern Russian city of Bryansk some 103 kilometers from the Ukrainian border. This may be either another Ukrainian successful attack on Russian strategic facilities or Russia’s false flag operation to blame Ukraine.

The first reports on the fire at an oil depot in Russia’s Bryansk emerged about 2 a.m. This CCTV video allegedly shows the first explosion which caused the first fire:

This video shows the initial fire at the first fuel depot in Bryansk and the explosion at the second:

One of the burning facilities turned out to be the Rosneft refinery, according to geolocation data; the other fire occurred near a military unit.

Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations reported that  the oil depot Transneft Bryansk-Druzhba caught fire in the morning, no one was injured there. Transneft is a subsidiary of the Russian oil giant Rosneft. The second facility was “a reservoir with diesel fuel on the territory of the oil complex on Snezhetsky Val,” according to Interfax.

The Ukrainian media NV identified the second facility as Rosneft JSC Bryansknefteprodukt, another oil depot located in the same area as Transneft Bryansk-Druzhba.

Bryansk is a key hub in the transportation of oil through the Druzhba main oil pipeline from Siberia to Europe. However, according to NV experts, the explosions and fire in Bryansk are not going to affect the oil supplies via Druzhba. Nevertheless, NV says, this incident has caused severe damage to the Russian oil and gas industry.
Bryansk fuel depots
Early morning view of Bryansk, Russia, on 25 April 2022. Source.
Bryansk fuel depots
One of the fires at Bryansk oil facilities as of 07:40, 25 April 2022. Source.

Fires on both fuel facilities in Bryansk haven’t been extinguished as of the evening of 25 April.

Bryansk fuel depots
Plumes of smoke over the Bryansk oil depot and refinery as of 15:00, 15 April 2022. Source.

About 09:20, the Russian news agency Interfax reported that fires were localized at one of the facilities, citing its sources. However, fires were actually spreading in the afternoon across the facilities, according to the satellite monitoring data:

Bryansk fuel depots
Fires at Bryansk fuel facilities at about 15:00 on 25 April 2022, according to NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management System. Source.

Russian media speculated that “Ukrainian drones could strike” the fuel facilities, however, no confirmation was provided.

Previously, Head of Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Intelligence Kyrylo Budanov warned that Russians could stage attacks on their own facilities in the Russian territory in order to present Ukraine to its citizens as a criminal state.

Currently, Russia conducts so-called “covert mobilization” only in a few regions, according to Ukraine’s General Staff. The previous alleged Ukrainian attacks on a military facility and an oil depot in Belgorod and today’s attacks on fuel facilities in Bryansk may also be Russian false flag operations to raise the readiness of locals to fight against Ukraine before declaring the general mobilization in the border regions of Russia.

As of 20:00 EEST, Russia didn’t accuse Ukraine of the fires yet, and Ukrainian officials didn’t confirm any Ukrainian involvement in the incident.

Bryansk fuel depots
Most of the media reported that Bryansk is located about 150 kilometers from the Ukrainian border. However, the direct aerial route from the closest point at the Ukrainian border to the facilities in question is about 103 kilometers, which is within the range of Ukrainian Tochka-U missiles.

Ihor Romanenko, the former Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, told Radio Liberty that the Bryansk incident will at least cause a 2-3-day delay in the supply of fuel and lubricants to the grouping of the Russian forces in the eastern operational zone. Mr. Romanenko says that there were other hits on missile storages not reported by the Russian side.

“We will not just watch them hit our railway stations, fuel and lubricant processing plants, and so on. The time has come that this will happen to them,” Romanenko commented to Radio Liberty.

Other attacks on Russia’s strategic facilities

The attack on Bryansk fuel depots isn’t the first attack on the strategic military facilities on the Russian territory. Russia blamed Ukraine on most of other attacks of this kind while Ukraine usually denies its involvement.

  • 1 April 2022: the Russian Governor of Belgorod, the city facing Ukraine’s northeastern city of Kharkiv across the border, stated that two Ukrainian Mi-24 helicopters attacked and set fire to a fuel depot in Belgorod, Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov denied that it was Ukraine that carried out the air strike on Belgorod.
  • 29 March 2022: a fire and subsequent explosions occurred in an ammunition depot near Russia’s Belgorod, Russian officials blamed Ukraine of the attack.
  • 25 February 2022: the Russian air base in Millerovo, Russia, near the eastern border of Ukraine was attacked by Ukrainian Tochka-U missiles, Russia lost one or two Su-30SM fighter-bombers.

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