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British intel: Russia unable to fully protect energy facilities from attacks

A Russian official says Pantsir air defenses will be deployed to protect refineries from Ukraine’s drones strike, but a report says Russia is unlikely to protect all vulnerable energy facilities
fire at the Lukoil refinery in the Nizhny Novgorod
A fire at the Lukoil refinery in the Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, Russia, as a result of a drone attack, 12 March 2024 Credit: Russian telegram channel
British intel: Russia unable to fully protect energy facilities from attacks

Russia will unlikely be able to protect all the vulnerable energy facilities from drone attacks, the British Defense Ministry reported on 23 March.

Ukraine had successfully struck 12 Russian oil refineries with Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), according to a Ukrainian intelligence official.

Ukraine is allegedly trying to disrupt the supply of fuel to the frontline by attacking Russia’s oil refining industry with its drones and depriving the Kremlin of revenues from the sale of oil products and crude oil, one of the main sources of income to finance the war.

Three large refineries in the Samara Oblast in southern Russia attacked on 16 March are approximately 900km from Ukraine, underscoring the reach of the Ukrainian UAV attacks. “These strikes are imposing a financial cost on Russia, impacting the domestic fuel market,” the report notes.

“Recent strikes against refineries have likely disrupted at least 10% of Russia’s refinery capacity,” the British Defence Ministry reported.

According to Reuters, the strikes reduced Russia’s oil refining capacity by 370,500 barrels per day or 7% of the total.

Depending on the extent of the damage, “major repairs could take considerable time and expense.” According to the report, sanctions are highly likely to increase the time and cost of sourcing replacement equipment.

A Russian Energy Ministry official said that “there are plans to deploy Pantsir air defense systems to protect the refineries.”

However, the UK Defense Ministry said, “given the size and scale of Russia’s energy industry, it is unlikely that Russia will be able to protect all the vulnerable facilities.”

The Financial Times reported on 22 March that the US urged Ukraine to halt attacks on Russian energy infrastructure, cautioning that such actions could raise global oil prices and gasoline costs in the US, potentially impacting President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign. FT sources claimed these warnings were directed at senior officials in Ukraine’s Security Service and Defense Intelligence.

Ukraine’s advisor to the head of the Office of the President, Mykhailo Podoliak, refuted claims that the United States had urged Kyiv to stop attacks on Russian oil refineries, saying as “fake information.”

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised the growing potential of the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ drones in light of recent attacks.

The Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Andriy Yermak, said on 13 March “We are at war with everything that finances the Russian army and the war. And Russia is at war with civilians and high-rise buildings,” the official wrote in his telegram channel, without providing further details.

A representative of the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine under the Ministry of Defense, Andriy Yusov, told Radio Liberty that “this work will continue.”

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