A fuel depot in the Russian city of Belgorod is on fire Friday after Ukrainian helicopters reportedly crossed the border and attacked the facility, the governor of the region said on social media, claims that have not been independently verified but if true would mark the first Ukrainian airstrike on Russian territory and a major embarrassment to Moscow.
Two low-flying military helicopters conducted an airstrike on the oil depot, setting the facility ablaze and injuring two workers, regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram.
Gladkov did not provide evidence for the claims and they have not yet been independently verified or claimed by Ukrainian officials.
If true, the attack would mark the first Ukrainian airstrike on Russian territory since the war began and comes after Moscow claimed to have “practically” destroyed Ukraine’s air force last week.
The reports add to growing indications of strong resistance against Russian forces, with Ukraine continuing to “make successful but limited counter attacks to the east and north east of Kyiv” and retaking two villages south of Chernihiv, according to the latest update from the British defense ministry on Friday.
Late on Thursday, the defense ministry said Russia is “redeploying elements” of forces stationed in Georgia to reinforce the invasion.
The ministry said it was “highly unlikely” Moscow planned to generate reinforcements like this, which is “indicative of the unexpected losses it has sustained during the invasion.”
What To Watch For
Russian attacks switching focus. Moscow vowed to reduce military activity in northern Ukraine this week and claimed it would now focus on securing the eastern Donbas region. Analysts and officials are skeptical of Russia’s claims, which they suggest could be an effort to regroup and conceal military failures. Reports suggest attacks in eastern Ukraine are intensifying and also show few signs of reprieve for western Ukraine, where cities including Kyiv have still been subject to airstrikes. In addition to redeploying Georgian troops, Russian forces have also been forced to return to Belarus and Russia to resupply and reorganize, according to the British defense ministry, adding pressure to already “strained logistics” of its military operation.
Russian soldiers have reportedly left the Chernobyl power station after receiving high doses of radiation while digging trenches in the surrounding area, according to Ukraine’s nuclear agency Energoatom, which said the plant has been placed back under Ukrainian control. The reports have not been independently verified and the UN atomic watchdog said on Friday it is investigating the matter.