At 5:50 a.m. on April 1, a fire broke out at a fuel depot in the Russian city. BelgorodLocated less than 50 kilometers from the Ukrainian border.
A video circulated on social media, checked by the BBC, showed that when two helicopters passed by, the missiles appeared to have fallen, ending in a large fireball.
Some media reported based on images from other videos, Two helicopters, known as MI-8s, flew low over other nearby cities within hours of the explosion.
Belgorod Regional Governor Vyasaslav Gladkov accused Ukraine of attacking the facility, shortly afterwards, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said. Two Ukrainian Mi-24 helicopters enter Russian airspace at very low altitudes and “launch missile attack on civilian fuel depot” Outside Belgorod.
This is not the first suspicious explosion on the Russian border since February 24. Vladimir Putin Began the invasion of Ukraine. A few days ago, on March 29, several explosions were reported at an ammunition depot near Belgorod.
However, this time it was different, as explained by the BBC’s security correspondent Jonathan Peel. If Q’s involvement in the bombing is confirmed, this is the first time a Ukrainian plane has entered Russian territory to attack a target.
But despite Moscow’s allegations, kyiv has not claimed responsibility for the attack. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksandr Modusyanik has said that Russia’s “occupation” of Ukraine is being thwarted.
“That does not mean that Ukraine is responsible for all those disasters and all the events that take place in the territory of the Russian Federation. This is not the first time we have seen such allegations. So, dear friends, I am not going to confirm or deny that information,” he said.
Accidents or Attacks?
Since then, numerous suspicious incidents have been reported on Russian soil. For example, on April 25, the city of Bryansk, located about 155 kilometers northeast of the Ukrainian border, rose to the sky darkened by a fire in a large oil pipeline. The regional governor, Alexander Bokomas, reported a fire at the gas depot, but did not explain why.
The bomber struck shortly after noon in front of a Russian military base and a military research institute in Tver, near Moscow.
No one knows the exact number, but the media has reported more than a dozen of these cases. “They have taken place in different parts of the country. They took place in research centers, usually in facilities connected to military and other strategic production centers, so it is clear that these eruptions were not a coincidence, ”said Matthew Orr, Rane’s Eurasian Analyst for Geopolitical Risk Analysis. , To BBC World.
Analysts believe that some of these incidents may be the cause Powerful Turkish-made pyrethrum drones Is with Ukraine and in other cases, it may be the infiltration activities of the intelligence units of that country within the Russian border. However, kyiv has not yet acknowledged or denied its involvement in these incidents. Why?
Those responsible to the government Volodymyr Zhelensky They refrain from clarifying what they know about these incidents, while at the same time showing some satisfaction in them.
“Belgorod, Movska, Bryansk. Fixed ‘Production Incidents’. How can karma not be believed for the death of children in Ukraine? However, many are still willing to turn a blind eye to financing terrorists by buying Russian oil. But should the EU be dependent on a country that destroys itself all? ” Zelensky adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak wrote in a message posted on Twitter on April 25.
Ukraine’s Deputy Interior Minister Anton Zherashchenko also referred to the incidents. Thus, in a Twitter message, he posted a message “Do not smoke” with a picture of a fire at a gas station in Bryansk.
To date, the most direct response to these incidents by any Ukrainian official has been given by Oleksei Arestovych, an adviser to Zelensky’s chief executive. “We can neither confirm nor deny it. After what happens, we will not officially say yes, we will not say no like Israel.Arrestovich said in a recent interview New York Times It refers to Israel’s decades-long policy of “strategic ambiguity” over its nuclear weapons program.
As Matthew Orr explained to BBC Mundo, Ukraine is reaping greater benefits by maintaining uncertainty over the issue.
“One could assume that some of these attacks were carried out with the help of the Ukrainian intelligence service, and because they did not want Russia to use these explosives, they did not see the need to further clarify the issue. War,” he points out.
He explains that the Ukrainians’ claim that they did not do this is very valuable from an information point of view. But by the people in Russia who are sympathetic to the situation of kyiv And those who want to sabotage the war that Putin started.
Arr says it is not surprising that Ukraine is operating in Russian territory because the country has been working for years to retain intelligence, resources and capabilities. “It is unwise for them not to use those resources now,” he says.
Threats and escalation
These incidents did not happen again to Moscow, which had threatened revenge.
“Russian military ready to retaliate against decision-making centers in queue using high-precision weapons”Russia’s Defense Ministry warned last week that Britain was “inciting” Ukraine to launch attacks on Russian territory.
For his part, Putin’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused NATO of engaging in a “proxy war” against Russia and warned that weapons supplied by Western powers to Ukraine were a “legitimate target” for Russian forces. The official accused the West of “adding fuel to the fire” by supplying arms to Ukraine, warning that the conflict could lead to World War III.
But will these incidents in Russian territory lead to escalating conflict? The attacks on Russian soil could boost support for war in the country, according to political analytics firm R. Experts such as political founder Tatiana Stanovaya have pointed out.
“The Russian community is not ready for peace. The Russian community hopes that Ukraine will be defeated. Everything that comes from Ukraine, like the attacks on Russian territory, only feeds those sentiments.Stanovaya said Washington Post.
Although kyiv admits that Matthew Orr, for his part, was behind these explosions, he did not believe that these events would lead to an expansion. “It may not be decisive, but it may be part of the argument used to boost Russia, but it is still only one component.”He says.
“Russia is already using ballistic missiles to destroy railways, factories, roads, bridges and all kinds of infrastructure in Ukraine, so this is basically what Ukraine will do, but in a peaceful and very limited way. So it will only increase if Russia decides to use it as an argument,” he said. Added.
However, it has not yet been proven that Ukraine is behind all these incidents. There are experts who believe that only a certain part of these coincides with the actions of the Ukrainian forces.
William Alberg, Director of Strategy, Technology and Arms Control at the International Strategic Research Institute, a UK-based think tank He stressed that Russia was stockpiling large quantities of weapons and ammunition, and that accidents could have been caused by the negligence and corruption of Russian forces. And Ukraine has allowed itself to take responsibility for these incidents to its advantage.
Despite the explosions caused by negligence, [los ucranianos] They are satisfied with the blink of an eye, and let the world think that they are the result of special missions. Instead of acknowledging that they may be guilty of corruption by Russian civil or military officials, the Russians are sometimes happy to blame the Ukrainians, ”Alberg told Radio Free Europe.
The expert added that he had no doubt about it The Ukrainians are carrying out sabotage operations against Russia and trying to attack all Russian fuel and ammunition depots.But he said it was wrong to blame kyiv for every fire or explosion in Russia.
But whether these incidents are acts of sabotage or accidents due to negligence or corruption, They also carry out the task of raising the morale of the troops and population in UkraineAccording to geopolitical expert Peter Zeihan, “the Russian military has already given up hope that Ukrainian citizens will receive them as liberators or Slavic relatives.”
Thus, in these circumstances, the strategic ambiguity of the Zelensky government allows it to benefit from any setback caused by Russian forces.
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