Fires tear through Russian oil plant in Bryansk, close to the Ukrainian border

Major fires ripped through oil depots Monday in Bryansk, a Russian city less than 100 miles from the Ukrainian border, which is a key logistical hub in Russia’s war effort.

Russian officials said they were investigating the cause. The fires took place on the same day as Russian forces targeted critical infrastructure throughout Ukraine.

Russian state television reported two separate explosions. One was at a civilian oil depot – part of a pipeline connecting Russian oil fields with Europe – and the other was at a military oil depot. A fire engulfed an oil tank that held 10,000 tons of diesel fuel, state television reported; the other contained 5,000 tons of diesel.

Russia has accused Ukraine of carrying out numerous attacks on border crossing points and other facilities inside the country.

Videos from the scene in Bryansk, confirmed by news agency Storyful, showed giant smoke flags billowing from two separate fires, about a mile apart.

Aleksandr Bogomaz, the governor of the Bryansk region, only confirmed the fire at the civilian oil depot. The military facility with oil tanks next to it was described by a local state-run job search website as a warehouse for missiles and other fuel.

No injuries were reported, according to the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations, which sent firefighters and rescue services to the scene, the Russian news agency Tass reported. Russian investigators launched an investigation into the incident.

The fires in Bryansk followed a series of similar incidents in Russian regions bordering Ukraine.

In early April, two Ukrainian helicopters hit an oil depot in Belgorod, less than 20 miles from the Ukrainian border, the first such attack on Russian territory published since the start of the war more than two months ago. Russian officials also accused Ukraine of an attack that hit residential buildings in Bryansk two weeks ago. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry, which has generally refused to discuss reports of attacks on Russian soil, had no immediate comment on Monday.

The fires on Monday erupted hours after two senior U.S. officials, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the capital, Kiev, during the highest-ranking visit by U.S. officials. to Ukraine since the beginning of the war.

Russian forces continued to attack critical infrastructure throughout Ukraine on Monday, including missile attacks that hit at least five railway stations, according to Ukrainian authorities.

In addition to the fires that tore through the Russian oil depots near the Ukrainian border, several fires have been reported further inside Russia. Seventeen people died after a fire on Thursday in an important research institute for aerospace defense in the city of Tver north of Moscow, local authorities said. Russian officials also reported another fire Thursday at a large chemical plant in the Ivanovo region, 200 miles northeast of Moscow.

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