Ukraine targets Russia oil refinery

Ukrainian drones struck an oil refinery and a fuel depot in Russian border regions, officials in the targeted areas said Thursday, in Kyiv’s ongoing effort to disrupt the Kremlin’s war machine and as Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy sought further Western support in Europe’s biggest conflict since the Second World War.

Zelenskyy was due to join world leaders, including U.S. President Joe Biden, at D-Day commemorations in France on Thursday. On Friday, he was due to meet with French officials.

Zelenskyy’s trip came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Russia could provide long-range weapons to other countries so that they could strike Western targets. That threat came after NATO allies said they would allow Ukraine to use weapons they deliver to Kyiv to attack Russian territory.

Ukraine’s army is fighting to hold back a recent Russian push in eastern areas that seeks to exploit Kyiv’s shortages of ammunition and troops along the roughly 1,000-kilometre (620-mile) front line after more than two years of war.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, said that Putin’s comments Wednesday in St. Petersburg, Russia, amounted to “a quite significant shift in our foreign policy.”

“Let the U.S. and its allies feel the impact of direct use of Russian weapons by others,” Medvedev wrote on his messaging app channel.

Putin deliberately didn’t name potential recipient countries of Russian weapons, Medvedev said. They could go to anyone who considers the U.S. and its allies their enemies, he said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday the use of Western weapons against Russia “can’t be left without consequences, and those consequences will certainly follow.”

Putin claimed that using some Western-supplied weapons involves military personnel of those countries controlling the missiles and selecting targets, and therefore he said that Moscow could take “asymmetrical” steps elsewhere in the world.

The U.S. military said that it doesn’t control the missiles it provides to Ukraine or the targets, and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that the alliance has no plans to deploy forces to Ukraine.

“We are focusing on how we can establish a stronger framework for our support, with an institutionalized framework for the support to Ukraine and how to establish an agreed long-term financial commitment to ensure that we stand by Ukraine for as long as it takes,” Stoltenberg said in Finland.

An overnight drone attack hit the Novoshakhtinsk refinery in Russia’s Rostov region and started a fire, Rostov Gov. Vasily Golubev said. Firefighters had to pull out briefly because of a second attack, he said.

The extent of the damage to the facility wasn’t immediately clear. Golubev said that there were no casualties.

In Belgorod, another border region, a drone hit an oil depot overnight, Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov said. It caused an explosion and a fire in one of the oil reservoirs. The blaze was quickly extinguished and there were no casualties, Gladkov said.

It wasn’t immediately possible to verify the reports.

Refineries, fuel depots and oil terminals have been targets of increasingly sophisticated Ukrainian drone attacks that have reached deep into Russia. The attacks deny Moscow revenue, and Western sanctions have added to the pressure on Russia’s energy sector.

Russia, meanwhile, has been attacking Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and causing widespread power outages. The apparent goal is to sap public morale and affect military manufacturing plants.

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