Russia has denounced that the Ukrainian Army bombed a fuel depot inside Russian territory, just 35 kilometers from the border on Friday, April 1. Kremlin has warned that this surprise attack could imply a turning point in the conflict and could hinder the peace talks going on between Russia and Ukraine.
The Governor of Belgorod region of Russia, Viacheslav Gladkov, said that two Ukrainian Armed Forces helicopters bombed an oil storage facility managed by the Russian energy giant Rosneft, in an area located about 80 kilometers from the battered Ukrainian city of Kharkov.
The bombardment, which has neither been confirmed nor denied by Kiev, set fire to the depot and injured two workers, according to a Telegram post written by Governor Gladkov.
The governor wrote in the post that two aircraft crossed into Russia flying at a low altitude and carried out the raid at dawn on Friday.
Social media users uploaded numerous images of the bombing and huge smoke columns in the area.
While the Russian emergency services tried to put out the fire, the authorities informed that there was no threat to the population.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson Dmitri Peskov has warned that the Ukrainian attack could hamper peace talks between Moscow and Kiev.
“This does not help the conditions for continuing the negotiations,” said Peskov.
In response to a question on how a Ukrainian aerial attack could have occurred in Russian territory, Peskov declined to answer and limited to pointing out, “It is not up to us, the presidential administration, to make any assessment, that should be made by professionals. Our air superiority in our special operation is an absolute fact, but it is not us but our security agencies that must assess this.”
Despite this attack, diplomatic effort to end the conflict is being carried forward, and the negotiations resumed on April 1, informed Russia’s chief negotiator, Vladimir Medinsky.
“We have continued with the negotiations via videoconference,” Medinsky confirmed on Telegram. “Our positions on Crimea and the Donbass have not changed.”
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian forces informed that they have retaken the villages of Sloboda and Lukashivka, located south of the besieged northern city of Chernigov, along one of the main supply routes to the capital Kiev. Russia has not confirmed this claim.
On the other hand, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed that Russian withdrawals from the north and the center of Ukraine were just a military tactic of Russia to build up force for new attacks in the southeast. Recently Russia announced withdrawal from the regions around Kiev to facilitate peace negotiations
“We know their intentions,” Zelensky said in a late-night address to the nation. “We know that they are moving away from those areas where we hit them to focus on the very important areas where we may find it difficult to hit.”
The international Red Cross, which is carrying out humanitarian work in conflict-hit areas, has not yet confirmed whether evacuations of civilians from the besieged city of Mariupol will be possible from April 1.
However, the Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, Irina Vereschuk announced on Facebook that at least 1,458 people had been evacuated from the city, through three humanitarian corridors that had been previously agreed on Thursday, March 31.
Russian gas supply
Regarding the issue of gas supply to Europe, Dmitri Peskov clarified that what has already been exported will remain out of the new payment mechanism in rubles that President Putin ordered last week and which went into effect on April 1.
“The decree is not retrospective,” stated Peskov in response to the question on whether the new rule will cover gas already shipped abroad.
“The disbursement for the already made shipments is not due today,” Peskov explained. “Payments must be made by the end of the second half of April, or even in the beginning of May.”
The European Union is a major gas importer, and 40% of its consumption comes from Russian supplies.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), headquartered in Paris, gas demand in the EU reached 552 billion cubic meters in 2021.
War crime complaints
Among other matters, two complaints have been registered about possible war crimes committed by Ukrainian army on Russian prisoners of war.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has appealed to Ukrainian authorities after images showing Ukrainian soldiers shooting Russian POWs in the legs have surfaced.
In a video released last Sunday, three men in Russian army uniform, with their hands tied behind their backs, are seen to be thrown to the ground from a van by other armed men who then shoot them in the legs.
The Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) denounced that the governments of many Western countries try to hide acts of torture committed by Ukrainian authorities.
The SVR pointed out that there is evidence indicating that the Ukrainian leadership is trying to convince its patrons in the West that the Red Cross and non-governmental organizations should not access the camps of imprisoned Russian soldiers.
“Such incidents involving Russian prisoners clearly show that the governments of many Western countries were not only aware of the serious violations of international humanitarian law by the Ukrainian regime, but have also tried to help it evade responsibility,” said the SVR in a statement.
Featured image: Firefighters trying to control a fire in an oil deposit in the Russian province of Belgorod, caused by Ukrainian helicopter attack. Photo: AFP
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
- orinocotribunehttps://orinocotribune.com/author/orinocotribune/March 4, 2024