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Pentagon reports on catastrophic consequences of Ukrainian drone attacks on Russian oil refineries

Pentagon reports on catastrophic consequences of Ukrainian drone attacks on Russian oil refineries Russia suffered huge losses due to Ukrainian attacks on oil refineries (photo: Russian media)

Attacks by Ukrainian drones on Russian energy infrastructure have disabled 14% of the country's oil refining capacity and led to an increase in domestic fuel prices, according to Bloomberg.

The agency referred to an assessment by the US Department of Defense's Intelligence Directorate, summarized in a report published on Thursday, May 16, by the Inspector General overseeing US aid to Ukraine.

According to the report, the loss of part of Russia's oil refining capacity led to an increase in domestic prices by 20%-30% by mid-March. It prompted a halt in exports to focus on meeting domestic demand. However, the impact on electricity production was minimal.

"To mitigate the impact of these strikes, Russia banned gasoline exports for six months starting in March, began importing refined product from Belarus, planned to import from Kazakhstan, and prioritized shipments of petroleum products by Russian Railways, as opposed to other means of transportation," the report states.

Ukraine, which relies on US-led foreign military and economic aid to fight Russia, has grown increasingly aggressive striking targets inside Russian territory. While the refinery attacks are designed to deplete fuel and export revenues for Putin’s armed forced, the US has criticized them as creating a risk to global oil prices.

While the attacks are still ongoing, the DIA analysis covers only a two-month period — from the first strike on January 21, on Novatek PJSC’s Ust-Luga plant, until a March 24 attack on a power plant in Novocherkassk.

Attacks on power facilities have resulted in a negligible disruption of electricity to the Russian military and civilian population because Russia has a robust generation capacity — the third largest in the world — and a high degree of redundancy in its grid.

The report also notes that Ukrainian Armed Forces' strikes on Russia's Black Sea Fleet using unmanned maritime drones altered Russian naval operations. The Russian Black Sea Fleet has started avoiding the Ukrainian coast and relocated some ships from its main base in occupied Sevastopol, Crimea.

The assessment and data were contained in the latest quarterly report on US military and civilian aid to Ukraine from Pentagon Inspector Robert Storch.

Attacks on Russian oil refineries

In January, Ukrainian special services and military began regular drone attacks on oil refineries within Russian territory.

The first attack occurred on January 21, when kamikaze drones hit the Novatek plant in Ust-Luga on the Baltic Sea coast.

The latest attack took place on the night of May 17, when drones struck the Tuapse refinery. The plant exports diesel fuel and fuel oil. It had not been operational for the last three months following an attack at the end of January and had only recently resumed operations.

The record-setting attack targeted an oil refinery in Bashkiria, 1,500 kilometers from the Ukrainian border.

Due to the regular attacks on refineries, gasoline prices in Russia have increased by 20% since the beginning of the year.

The US has urged Ukraine to cease these attacks, fearing a rise in gasoline prices on the international market.