A fire broke out at an oil refinery in Novoshakhtinsk, Rostov Oblast, some 150 kilometres (90 miles) from the front lines. According to official media, the drone attack occurred in Russia’s Rostov region on Wednesday as part of suspected Ukraine-backed operations behind enemy lines. And the most fascinating part of this incident is that the same drone can be bought from Alibaba.
According to two anonymous individuals, the fire was started by a drone that flew into a heat transfer unit.
According to reports, Russia did not directly blame Ukraine for the attack, although two drones were observed near the plant. The regional governor, Vasily Golubev, said on Telegram that workers discovered remnants of two drones at the refinery.
The incident captured on video showed a drone flying high above the Novoshakhtinsk refinery before colliding with it and causing an explosion. According to emergency services, the fire spread across a 50-square-metre area before being extinguished by firefighters. There were no recorded casualties.
While the exact nature of the drone is unknown, Ukraine Weapons Tracker, a well-known open-source intelligence organisation, stated that it appeared to be based on a Ukrainian-made reconnaissance drone modified to carry explosives. The explosion occurred around 150 kilometres behind the combat lines, near the Ukrainian border.
Russia has accused Ukraine of carrying out a series of attacks on its territory in recent weeks, explicitly targeting fuel depots, military installations, and infrastructure critical to Russian supply lines. However, Ukraine has not admitted responsibility for any attacks.
“For some reason, the Novoshakhtinsk Oil Refinery is on fire in Russia,” said a post by Ukraine’s 72nd Mechanized Brigade, later adding that hitting such a target with a “kamikaze drone” 150 kilometres deep into enemy territory is “not bad!”
“It is hot in the Rostov region,” Ukraine’s armed forces wrote in one Telegram channel post.
“It is best to smoke in designated places and to not throw cigarette butts on oil depots,” the post added.
Ukraine has recently undertaken some daring counter-attacks, including sinking a Russian warship fortifying Snake Island in the Black Sea and some Russian-operated gas installations off the coast of Crimea.
On the ground, Ukrainian forces have made incremental military advances toward the Russian-held city of Kherson.
The attacks come as more powerful Western weapons systems arrive in Ukraine, and they could be part of a Ukrainian strategy to counter Russian forces that continue to make steady gains in the Donbas, where the majority of the combat is currently concentrated.