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Ukrainian drones destroys 12% of Russia's oil refining capacity in two days

In a series of coordinated drone strikes that took place on the nights of March 12 to 13, Ukraine launched significant attacks against key energy infrastructure and military assets inside Russia. According to various sources, these drone assaults targeting Russian refineries have destroyed 12% of the country's refining capacity. The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) sources, cited by Ukrainian media outlets Suspilne and RBC-Ukraine, reported that these attacks targeted oil refineries in the Ryazan, Nizhny Novgorod, and Leningrad oblasts, as well as military airfields in Buturlinovka and the city of Voronezh, Voronezh Oblast.
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Two screenshots of videos of the drone attack carried out on March 13, 2024 in Ryazan, Russia(Picture source: Telegram Channel @OSTOROZNO NOVOSTI )

The governor of Ryazan Oblast, Pavel Malkov, confirmed that a drone strike had hit the Ryazan oil refinery, causing a fire. Images broadcast showed smoke rising from the refinery area. Additionally, the Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery in the Rostov Oblast was temporarily shut down after being targeted by at least three Ukrainian drones, causing a halt in its operations.

These attacks come at a time when Ukraine is intensifying efforts to impact the Russian economy, specifically targeting key energy facilities. According to SBU sources, these strikes aim to reduce Russia's economic output, decrease oil revenue, and disrupt the fuel supplies that Russia uses directly for its war effort in Ukraine.

The Russian Ministry of Defense reported that Russian air defenses destroyed 58 drones during the night of March 12 to 13, highlighting the intensity of the exchanges between the two countries. The attacks not only demonstrated Ukraine's ability to produce asymmetric effects against critical Russian energy and military infrastructure but also exposed the vulnerabilities of these installations to relatively inexpensive drones.

Two primary oil refining units were shut down in Rosneft's largest refinery in Ryazan following a fire caused by a drone attack. Similarly, operations were halted at another major refinery, the NORSI facility of Lukoil in the Nizhny Novgorod region, after a drone attack led to a fire.

The series of attacks reflects an increasing strategic use of drones in the conflict, underscoring their growing central role in modern warfare. As Ukraine faces numerous setbacks on its territory and the Russian military gradually gains ground, the Ukrainian military confronts a shortage of ammunition and manpower, hindering the possibility of a direct counter-offensive. The use of drones, therefore, offers a significant opportunity to strike strategic locations within Russia.

By continuing to hit targets deep inside Russian territory, the Ukrainian military impacts Russia's energy production capabilities, which are crucial to its economy and war effort. In response to these threats, Russia imposed a six-month ban on gasoline exports starting from March 1, in an attempt to stabilize its internal resources.

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