A major gas export terminal near the city of St Petersburg, Russia, faced a massive explosion that Russian officials claim was orchestrated by Ukrainian drones.
The incident occurred at the Ust-Luga terminal, owned by gas producer Novatek, on the Gulf of Finland. The blast resulted in a large fire, prompting a high alert regime in the region, although fortunately, no injuries have been reported.
Russian regional governor Alexander Drozdenko confirmed the “high alert regime” after the incident, sharing a video of the roaring fire at the Novatek terminal.
Novatek later announced the suspension of work at the facility, attributing the fire to “external influence” without providing further details.
According to an official source in Kyiv, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) masterminded the attack as part of a “special operation.” Ukrainian drones were allegedly employed with precision to carry out the strike.
The Ukrainians contend that the fuel processed at the plant was supplying Russian troops engaged in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
They assert that this strike significantly hampers logistical support for the Russian military and delivers a substantial economic blow to Russia, a significant fuel exporter from the terminal.
Russia’s Fontanka.ru released video footage showing tankers near the site of the fire and reported that two drones were observed approaching St Petersburg around 01:00 local time, making a sharp turn at the city’s outskirts before heading for the Ust-Luga port on the coast.
An eyewitness described feeling the ground shake beneath his feet during the explosions. At the same time, another video posted on Russian social media captured massive orange fireballs, accompanied by a buzzing drone just before the explosion.
Approximately 150 staff were evacuated from the terminal, according to the Russian Telegram channel Mash. Flights in and out of St Petersburg were reportedly grounded ahead of the incident, following a plan known as “Carpet.”
The Ukrainians argue that the targeted terminal played a crucial role in supporting Russian military operations in Ukraine. They hope to create additional challenges for Russian forces by disrupting the supply chain.
This attack follows a pattern of nations targeting each other’s energy infrastructure in the ongoing conflict.
Russia’s defence ministry claimed to have shot down three Ukrainian drones in the Smolensk Region, near the border with Ukraine, on the same night as the attack.
Additional reports suggest that Russian forces also downed drones over Tula and Oryol in western Russia, though no casualties were reported.
Escalation in Energy Infrastructure Attacks
This incident is part of a broader trend, with both Russia and Ukraine engaging in attacks on each other’s energy infrastructure.
Just one day before the Ust-Luga attack, a significant oil loading terminal in St Petersburg was targeted. On Friday, a fire erupted at an oil depot in Bryansk, southwest Russia, which Moscow attributed to a Ukrainian drone strike.
Ukraine has repeatedly raised concerns about ammunition shortages within its army but has set an ambitious target of domestically producing a million drones this year.
Using drones in targeted strikes marks a new chapter in the ongoing conflict, showcasing both sides’ evolving tactics and strategies.
Human Toll in Eastern Ukraine
In addition to the attack near St Petersburg, tragedy struck in eastern Ukraine, as at least 25 people were killed and 20 injured in a shelling incident at a busy market in the Russian-controlled city of Donetsk.
Russian-installed officials reported the casualties, while Kyiv has not yet commented on the attack.
The explosion at the Ust-Luga terminal near St Petersburg signifies an escalation in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
As both nations continue to target each other’s critical infrastructure, the use of drones in precision strikes introduces a new dimension to the military tactics employed in the region.
The international community watches with increasing concern as the conflict, now in its second year, shows no signs of abating, with each side adopting innovative methods to gain the upper hand.
The consequences of these actions extend beyond the battlefield, impacting civilian populations and threatening the entire region’s stability.
This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members