Russia and Ukraine target each other’s energy sectors

Moscow has renewed strikes on Ukraine’s energy facilities, drawing retaliatory attacks on refineries by Kyiv.

Emergency services personnel work to extinguish a fire
Emergency services personnel work to extinguish a fire in Ivano-Frankivsk region, Ukraine, on Saturday [Handout/State Emergency Service of Ukraine via AP]

Russia and Ukraine renewed attacks on energy infrastructure overnight, damaging plants and causing fires, officials from the two countries said.

The Ukrainian army said in its regular situational update on Saturday that Russia hit Ukraine with a “massive missile attack”. Energy Minister German Galushchenko also said in a Facebook post that the “enemy” had again attacked Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

“In particular, facilities in Dnipropetrovsk, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Lviv regions were attacked. There is damage to equipment,” he said.

The DTEK power operator said equipment at four thermal power plants was “severely damaged” in the overnight strikes.

State electricity operator Ukrenergo added it had disconnected its main overhead power line in the west of the country as a preventive measure.

Emergency services personnel work to extinguish a fire
Emergency services personnel work to extinguish a fire in the Ivano-Frankivsk region, Ukraine [Handout/State Emergency Service of Ukraine via AP]

“We ask all consumers to consume electricity sparingly. Industry is asked to maximise electricity imports and use alternative power sources,” Ukrenergo said.

Ukraine also said 21 drones out of 34 were shot down in Russia’s latest barrage of attacks.

In recent months, Moscow has launched some of its most significant strikes on Ukraine’s energy facilities, knocking out a substantial chunk of the production and triggering blackouts.

The Russian Defence Ministry said on Saturday that its forces had carried out 35 strikes in the last week against Ukrainian energy facilities, defence factories, railway infrastructure, air defences and ammunition stocks.

It said in a statement that the strikes, which spanned April 20 to 27, were “in response to attempts by the Kyiv regime to damage Russian energy and industrial facilities”.

Kyiv says Moscow is escalating its attacks ahead of its nationwide celebrations on May 9, when Russia marks victory in World War II, and while Ukraine awaits the arrival of highly anticipated weapons from the United States.

Ukraine targets Russian oil refineries

Meanwhile, on Saturday morning, Ukraine attacked the Ilsky and Slavyansk oil refineries in Russia’s Krasnodar region with drones, causing fires at the facilities, a Ukrainian intelligence source told the Reuters news agency.

The SBU security service conducted the attack, the unnamed source said, adding that the drones also targeted the Kushchevsk military airfield in the same region overnight.

“The SBU continues to target military and infrastructure facilities behind enemy lines effectively,” the source said.

Al Jazeera’s John Holman, reporting from Kyiv, said Ukrainian firms have been developing long-range drones that can go into Russia and hit refineries.

“That strategy has been happening over recent weeks,” he said.

Kyiv officials have said they consider Russian oil refineries legitimate targets despite calls from Western allies to cease attacks to avoid a possible Russian retaliation and increases in global oil prices.

Local authorities in Russia said the oil refinery in the Krasnodar region suspended its operations after the attack.

Roman Siniagovskyi, the head of the Russian Slavyansk administrative district, also said on Telegram that there were nine attacks on the storage tank farm and the distillation column, a key piece of equipment in the refining process.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated on Saturday that there are no grounds for peace talks due to Kyiv’s formal refusal to negotiate with Moscow.

In 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a decree formally declaring the prospect of any Ukrainian talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin “impossible” while leaving the door open to talks with what he called “another president of Russia”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies