Ukraine Attack Helicopters Hit Oil Facility Inside Russia, Kremlin Claims
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Russian politician Vyacheslav Gladkov has accused two Ukrainian attack helicopters of striking an oil facility in the city of Belgorod.
Footage shared online shows what appear to be missiles being fired from low altitude shortly before 6.00am local time today, 1 April. The missiles are said to have struck a fuel depot and caused an explosion, though news of the attack has not been confirmed by Ukraine.
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The governor claimed the helicopters crossed into the country at low altitude before targeting the facility in the city, which is approximately 40km (25 miles) from Ukraine's border. Two workers were injured as a result of the blaze and some areas in the city were being evacuated following the attack, Gladkov claimed.
Russian oil firm Rosneft (ROSN.MM), which owns the fuel depot, confirmed news of a fire in a statement, however it said no one was hurt and gave no information relating to the cause of the blaze.
A representative for the firm told TASS staff were evacuated and that the Rosneft Deputy main executive director went to the scene.
"The company is cooperating with the Ministry of Emergency Situations and law enforcement agencies," the representative said.
Russia's Ministry of Emergency situations said the fire was reported at 5.51am local time, after which 70 firefighters and 20 vehicles began work to prevent the fire from spreading to nearby fuel reservoirs.
Allegations of the attack come after earlier accusations made on Tuesday, when images shared online claimed to show explosions and blazes caused by Ukrainian shelling in Belgorod. At the time, Gladkov said explosions 'were heard on the territory of Belgorod and the Belgorod region' and that the incident 'took place near the village of Krasniy Oktyabr'.
However, later reports revealed the explosion was more likely the result of an accident rather than shelling by Ukraine.
Russian news outlet Interfax said the explosion 'happened as a result of a fire that broke out at the ammunition depot', while Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk claimed the explosion was the result of carelessness by Russian forces.
She commented: "It's another example of the typical neglect of safety protocols by the Russians when handling dangerous World War II era ammunition."
If today's allegations are verified, it would mark the first Ukrainian air strike on Russian soil since Vladimir Putin launched his 'military operation' in Ukraine on 24 February.
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