Russia accuses Ukrainian helicopters of attacking oil depot 25 miles away from border

1 April 2022, 13:03

Ukraine strikes fuel depot in Russia's Belgorod, regional governor says
Ukraine strikes fuel depot in Russia's Belgorod, regional governor says. Picture: Getty

By Megan Hinton

A Russian fuel depot in the city of Belgorod was engulfed in flames on Friday, as the local governor claimed the attack was carried out by two Ukrainian helicopters.

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A video shared on social media appears to show rockets hitting the target, sparking a huge blaze at the oil depot just 25 miles from the Russia Ukraine border.

Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov's claim was not confirmed by Ukrainian officials.

Governor Gladkov said in a Telegram message "there was a fire at the oil depot because of an air strike carried out by two Ukrainian army helicopters, which entered Russian territory at low altitude".

"Nobody was killed," he added.

If the claim is true, it will be the first time a Ukrainian aircraft has struck a target in Russia, and could be seen as a huge embarrassment for Moscow.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, also attributed blame to Ukraine saying: "Of course, this is not something that can be perceived as creating comfortable conditions for the continuation of negotiations."

Ukraine foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said: "I can neither confirm nor reject the claim that Ukraine was involved in this simply because I do not possess all the military information."

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'Not a single word coming out of the mouth of Putin can be trusted.'

A new round of talks between the countries was scheduled for Friday, five weeks into a conflict that has left thousands dead and driven 4 million Ukrainians from the country.

"We know their intentions," Mr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address to the nation.

"We know that they are moving away from those areas where we hit them in order to focus on other, very important ones where it may be difficult for us."

"There will be battles ahead," he added.

Mr Zelenskyy asked the Australian parliament on Thursday to send armoured vehicles to Ukraine, to which the southern country's leader said the following day he would oblige.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia will send Bushmaster vehicles on Boeing C-17 Globemaster transport planes, though he did not specify how many would be sent or when.

Sanctions on oligarchs should have been imposed a decade ago

Meanwhile in Mariupol, Russian forces blocked a convoy of 45 buses attempting to evacuate people after the Russian military agreed to a limited cease-fire in the area.

Only 631 people were able to get out of the city in private cars, according to the Ukrainian government.

Russian forces also seized 14 tons of food and medical supplies in a dozen buses that were trying to make it to Mariupol, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

The city has been the scene of some of the worst suffering of the war.

Tens of thousands have managed to get out in the past few weeks by way of humanitarian corridors, reducing the population from a pre-war 430,000 to an estimated 100,000 by last week, but other relief efforts have been thwarted by continued Russian attacks.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said it had been informed by Ukraine that the Russian forces at the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster had transferred control of it in writing to the Ukrainians, with the last Russian troops leaving early on Friday.

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