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Frontline update: Ukraine trying to create fuel shortages for Russian troops, force Russian aircraft further away

Satellite images showing damage to Sevastopol oil depot caused by the April 29 drone attack. Screenshot from the video.
Article by: Reporting from Ukraine
Ukraine launched a series of drone attacks against Russian military sites, trying to force Russia to relocate fighter bombers further away, and to create fuel shortages on the front lines. An airfield and other military facilities, a fuel depot, and even Moscow’s Kremlin were among the targets of the latest attacks.

Day 434: May 3

The day started with another Ukrainian drone attack on [Russia’s Taman peninsula near] Crimea. In the aftermath of a successful attack, Ukrainians destroyed a huge oil reservoir. The square area of the fire reached up to 1200 square meters, which is even bigger than what we saw in Sevastopol. The latest reports indicate that the firefighters managed to localize the fire and prevent it from spreading to other reservoirs this time. It was reported that there were no casualties.

Oil depot on fire in Russia’s Krasnodar Krai near occupied Crimea

This is the second major hit on a major Russian fuel storage facility that can be used for the Black Sea Fleet. Some analysts say that after a series of unsuccessful attempts to strike the fleet directly, Ukrainians decided to switch their focus to something the fleet cannot operate without, in this case, fuel. Yesterday satellite footage of the oil depot in Sevastopol became available. It showed that ten reservoirs were destroyed, six may have sustained damage due to proximate fire, and six remained fully intact and ready to use.

However, the biggest news by far is that today Moscow was hit by two drones. And the explosions were recorded not on the outskirts but in the heart of Moscow – Kremlin. The footage shows how a drone hits the dome and explodes. Later, Russians sent some inspectors to evaluate the damage and collect the remnant of the drone for analysis. The building did not sustain big damage, and there were no casualties. Russian sources immediately declared that Ukrainians attempted assassination on Putin, while the Ukrainian side quickly responded by claiming they were not responsible for the attack.

Putin’s press service claims two Ukrainian drones targeted Kremlin last night, promises retaliation

But this is only the beginning. Today another drone attack was conducted on the airfield in Bryansk. It was reported that at least one plane was damaged. It is possible that this was the response to the recent massive missile strike, where Russians used aviation to launch Kh-101 missiles to divert attention from Caliber rockets. If true, the goal of this drone attack may be to force Russians to relocate their fighter bombers away from Ukraine so that Ukrainian air defense has more time to react in the future.

A drone attack was also conducted in Feodosia. Local officials stated that Russian air defense successfully shot down an aerial object, so the goal of the strike was to either divert attention from the main strike on the oil depot or it was a part of the continuous effort to check the most current disposition and capability of the Russian air defense on the peninsula.

Yesterday, May 2, a series of explosions was once again recorded in Crimea. Another drone attack targeted various objects in Sevastopol, Simferopol, and Evpatoria. In Sevastopol, explosions and shootings were heard near the bay with the Black Sea Fleet. In Simferopol, the explosion occurred on the territory of the Russian Special Operators base. And in Evpatoria, explosions were heard near the Russian airfield. Local officials later reported that air defense successfully shot down an aerial object.

There was also a major derailment on the territory of the Russian Federation. The derailment happened in the Bryansk region. Russian sources reported that Ukrainian reconnaissance and sabotage groups got deep inside the region and blew up an important railway connection more than 100 km behind the border. As a result, two locomotives transporting oil and other fuel got derailed and caused a fire.

Overall, it looks like Ukrainians are trying to achieve two major objectives. First of all, by targeting the areas close to Russian airfields, Ukrainians are attempting to force Russians to relocate their fighter bombers away from the Ukrainian border to increase the distance and, therefore, the time for the reaction for the next missile strikes. And secondly, Ukrainians have focused on creating massive fuel shortages on the fronts. It looks like ammunition depots are more decentralized, so it takes more strikes to cause shortages on the front. The fuel can also help to take out Russian tanks and other heavy machinery, and it can be achieved quite cheaply. As we have seen, instead of doubling down on HIMARS strikes, Ukrainians used several cheap Chinese drones to eliminate up to 40 thousand tons of fuel in one attack. The continuation of such strikes will significantly undermine the ability of Russians to defend against the Ukrainian counteroffensive.

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