Storage tanks at a major oil depot in the Russian city of Bryansk exploded early on Monday. Was Ukraine responsible?
Before you answer, consider first that this is only the latest disaster to afflict Russian critical infrastructure near the Ukrainian border. Another oil depot on Belgorod was targeted by a Ukrainian helicopter strike in early April. Prior to that, Russian railway lines near the border were sabotaged. A Russian missile research center and a chemical plant also recently suffered explosions.
These incidents all appear to fit well with Ukraine’s military strategy.
Bryansk, 62 miles from the Ukrainian border, is beyond the range of most drone systems in Ukraine’s possession. Unconfirmed video from the Bryansk incident indicates the sound of a missile in the terminal attack phase. Considering this noise and Bryansk’s relative distance from Ukraine, short-range ballistic missiles may have been responsible. Regardless, the explosion will disrupt energy replenishment efforts for Russian military forces in Ukraine.
The explosion also dilutes Putin’s credibility in claiming that his war on Ukraine is not a war, but rather a limited “special military operation.” When stuff keeps blowing up in Russian cities, it’s hard to convince the residents of said cities that Russia isn’t at war.
If Ukraine is hitting back in ways that A) Slow the Russian offensive and B) Hit Putin right in the prestige, then good.