Ukrainian forces regain ground northeast of Kyiv, evacuation of Mariupol residents severely compromised

More information on the strike of a fuel depot in Belgorod, Russia

For the first time since the start of “Special Operation” conducted by Russia in Ukraine on February 24, the Ukrainian army reportedly carried out an attack on Russian territory on Friday morning. An oil depot located in the city of Belgorod, very close to the Ukrainian border, was targeted, causing several explosions and a major fire.

The reality of the strikes is beyond doubt, which probably explains why the Russian authorities did not seek to temporize or hide the facts. Several local Telegram channels, but also that of the media Baza, well introduced in Russian security circles, have published videos where we clearly see rockets hitting the objective, before daybreak. In one of these videos, two attack helicopters are visible.

The hypothesis of a very probable Ukrainian operation was quickly taken up by the Russian authorities. It has not, for the moment, been confirmed on the Ukrainian side. “A fire in an oil depot was caused by an airstrike by two Ukrainian army helicopters that entered Russian territory at low altitude”said on his Telegram account the governor of the Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov.

According to the same source, two people working on this depot managed by the Rosneft company were injured. The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said 170 rescue workers have been dispatched to the scene. On Friday morning, after daybreak, a large fire was still visible at the scene, with at least eight tanks burning. Residents of three nearby streets were evacuated.

Since February 24, airports in several southern Russian regions, including Belgorod, have been closed. The city itself is about twenty kilometers from the border, just north of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. On Wednesday, another disturbing event occurred there, with the explosion of an ammunition depot. The authorities then spoke of a ” human error “ having caused a fire, without anything being able to call this version into question.

Since the end of February, isolated rockets have also fallen on Russian territory on several occasions, without it being possible to identify their origin. Before the outbreak of the conflict, when Moscow was still looking for a pretext to launch its operation, the Russian authorities had claimed to have repelled a Ukrainian ground attack, using visibly staged images.

Benoît Vitkine (Moscow, correspondent)

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