A vacuum distillation column at an oil refinery caught fire in Russia’s Tuapse City overnight on 25 January, according to the local Russian authorities. Local sources spotted drones in the sky before three explosions occurred, followed by the blaze. Russian Telegram channel Mash claimed that three drones were shot down, but their debris crashed, causing the fire. Citing its sources, Ukrainian public broadcaster Suspilne says the incident was a drone strike conducted by Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) as part of an air raid campaign targeting fuel facilities on Russian territory.
The Tuapse oil refinery is at least the fourth fuel facility in Russia hit by Ukrainian long-range suicide drones over the last week. pic.twitter.com/2oTUWDcdSa
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) January 25, 2024
Tuapse is a port city on the Black Sea coast in Russia’s southwestern region of Krasnodar Krai, separated from Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula by the Kerch Strait. The Krasnodar region is crucial in sustaining Russian military operations in Ukraine’s south.
The Tuapse air attack continues a series of fires at fuel facilities across Russia, which occurred on 18-21 January in the Leningrad, Tambov, and Bryansk oblasts, disrupting Russian logistics and industrial operations.
The fire in Tuapse was localized nearly five hours following the outbreak of the blaze. According to the local governor of Tuapse district, Sergey Boyko, there were no casualties. The Sochi airport, some 100 kilometers away from the Tuapse oil refinery, was temporarily shut down for three hours in order to “ensure flight safety.”
“The SBU is striking deep into Russia and continues to attack facilities that are not only important for the Russian economy but also provide fuel for enemy troops. There will be many surprises ahead,” Suspilne’s security source said.
Earlier, on 22 January, Ukraine’s Center for Strategic Communications of Ukraine said that the military installations in the territory of Russia are legitimate targets for Ukraine after Russia had started its full-scale invasion of the country.
“The oil industry is the main source of income for the Russian Federation to finance its aggressive war,” the Stratcom statement reads.
As a major Russian military logistics hub, Krasnodar Krai saw several Ukrainian attacks on fuel infrastructure before:
- On 3 May, a blaze broke out at an oil depot on Russia’s Taman Peninsula in Russia’s Krasnodar Krai.
- On 4 May 2023, a drone attack started a fire at the Ilsky oil refinery which might have been the third Ukrainian air attack on Russian fuel facilities over the span of a few days.
- On 5 May 2023, another explosion occurred on the premises of the Ilskiy oil refinery.
- On 29 October 2023, an explosion targeted the Afipsky oil refinery in Russia’s Krasnodar region, causing a huge fire at the facility.