May 26, 2024

Ukrainian drones hit a major oil refinery owned by state-controlled Rosneft PJSC in Ryazan, southeast of Moscow, just as the facility’s crude-processing had recovered from a previous strike.

The overnight attack caused a fire at the plant, a person in the Ukraine military who is familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they aren’t authorized to discuss the information publicly.

“The Ryazan region was attacked by an unmanned aerial vehicle,” regional Governor Pavel Malkov said on his Telegram account Wednesday, without giving further detail. Videos posted on Russian Telegram channels purported to show the plant on fire, but they couldn’t immediately be verified by Bloomberg.

Rosneft, the nation’s largest oil producer, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment during a public holiday in Russia.

Oil-processing, one of Russia’s most important industries, has been a target of Ukrainian drone attacks since late January. Kyiv is seeking to curb fuel supplies to Russian forces on the front line and cut the flow of petrodollars to the Kremlin’s coffers as Moscow’s invasion continues into its third year.

Ukraine has targeted some of Russia’s key refineries, at times causing partial or complete shutdowns, with recent strikes at the Slavyansk and Ilsky plants in southern Russia. Driven by drone-inflicted damage and seasonal maintenance, Russia’s average daily processing rates were close to an 11-month low as of late April.

The Ryazan refinery, located some 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the Russian capital, was damaged by another Ukrainian drone in mid-March, and had been gradually ramping up its oil-processing operations since then.

In the period from April 18-24, the facility exceeded the operational level seen before the March attack, processing more than 300,000 barrels a day, according to a person familiar with Russian industry data. The plant has a nameplate capacity of 17.1 million tons of crude per year, equivalent to around 340,000 barrels a day, making the refinery one of Russia’s largest.

Russia has been targeting major Ukrainian cities with missile and drone strikes since it began the February 2022 invasion. It has claimed a recent deadly bombing campaign that has killed dozens in Ukraine is retaliation for attacks on its territory.

At least three people were killed and three injured when the southern city of Odesa came under ballistic missile attack early Wednesday, regional Governor Oleh Kiper said on Telegram. Civil infrastructure was also damaged in the strike, he said.

On Monday, a ballistic missile struck one of Odesa’s parks, killing five civilians.

Ukraine’s northeastern city of Kharkiv and the surrounding region have also faced relentless Russian strikes using so-called guided bombs. Local authorities said early Wednesday that 10 residential buildings were damaged.

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(With assistance from Olesia Safronova.)

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