Explosives-toting Ukrainian drones in an ambitious wave of overnight and dawn raids targeted oil refineries and power grid infrastructure targets across five of Russia’s western regions, setting a fuel processing plant and transformer stations ablaze in two of them, Tuesday news reports said.

The most damaging attacks appeared to have struck deep inside Russia’s Volgograd region, more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) distant from Ukraine-controlled territory, near the city Kalach-Na-Donu, where Ukrainian strike drones slammed into a fuel processing and storage plant, sparking massive fires.

Video, possibly recorded by a plant worker and uploaded to local social media, showed slow-moving propeller planes buzzing towards the plant at low altitude shortly after sunrise, before diving and exploding on the refinery’s premises. In those images, no Russian anti-aircraft fire or missile launches were visible. Some voiceovers in recordings uploaded to local social media stated at least seven aircraft struck the plant successfully.

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Oil refinery in the Russian city Kalach-Na-Donu burns fiercely following multiple Ukrainian drone strikes during the morning hours of July 8. Image published by the local news platform V1.Ru Volgograd Online.

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The local news platform VolgogradOnline offered intense and detailed coverage of the strikes. According to that source, Ukrainian drones first approached the plant at about 4 a.m. and locals heard repeated explosions from drone impacts or fuel detonations for the next two hours. Casualties were not reported.

Drone hits ignited fires in at least two gasoline storage reservoirs at the plant and, as of midday Tuesday, firefighters were still battling the blaze, a spokesman from Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry told V1.Ru.

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Images of some incoming kamikaze drones matched the silhouette of the Ukraine-developed UJ-26 Bobr (Beaver). According to open sources, the domestically developed aircraft can carry a warhead weighing up to 20 kilograms (45 pounds) and fly one way up to 1,000 kilometers (620 miles). Some geo-located images showed aircraft visibly different from the UJ-26 operating in the vicinity.

Ukrainian mainstream media widely credited operatives from the national intelligence agency, the SBU, and the army intelligence agency, HUR, for carrying out the attacks.

Images and text published on Tuesday by the pro-Ukraine Krymsky Veter military information platform identified the Kalach-Na-Donu refinery as a key loading facility for Russian fuel tankers carrying oil for export from riverside docks into the Black Sea, via the Volga-Don Canal.

Elsewhere in Volgograd Oblast, at least one drone struck a power substation near the city of Frolovo. That strike touched off a fire that was quickly put out but there were power outages across the region, the local Eto Rostov news platform reported. News media widely reported Volgograd airport had shut down, stranding hundreds of travelers.

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Kyiv Post screen grabs of two videos geo-located to the vicinity of an oil processing plant near the Russian city Kalach-Na-Donu, and made public on Tuesday morning. In the left image, a propeller-driven drone (circled in red) dives towards the already-burning refinery. In the right image smoke and flames billow hundreds of meters into the air following multiple hits by Ukrainian drones.

In Russia’s far southwestern Rostov region, according to Kremlin sources, local air defenses shot down 21 approaching Ukrainian drones. There was no official statement on how many got through. Social media reported those drone raids started at 2 a.m.

Rostov Governor Andrei Bocharov in a statement confirmed the fact of the attacks and praised Russian Air Force interceptors, jammers, anti-aircraft missiles and mobile gun teams for eliminating, he said, almost all incoming aircraft.

However, at least one Ukrainian aircraft managed to crash into a regional power distribution station near the village of Generalskoe, some 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) north of Rostov city, setting two transformers on fire. The blaze was quickly extinguished and state utility workers would repair the damage and restore power service as soon as possible, Bocharov claimed.

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Local blackouts were reported. The power situation in the region was worsened by an automatic shut-down of generators at the Novocherkassk hydro-electric station, planned maintenance of a reactor at the Rostov nuclear power station, intense consumer use of air conditioners, and an “emergency break-down” at the Rostov region Vologodonskiy power plant, a statement from the Rostov Oblast’ administration said.

Those capacity cuts were not linked to the Ukrainian strikes but their cascading effects on power production capacity had reduced the amount of electricity deliverable to consumers by a Gigawatt and forced reduction of power deliveries and blackouts, the Novosti Rostov news platform reported, citing Rostov officials. Depending on household consumption, a Gigawatt typically is sufficient to power 500,000-1,000,000 homes.

Kyiv Post combined image of video uploaded to the local social media site RetroRostov of a drone flying en route to striking a fuel processing plant near the Russian city Kalach-Na-Donu, and a graphic published by the Russian milblogger Rybar showing aspects of Ukraine’s UJ-26 Bobr (Beaver) kamikaze drone. According to open sources, the aircraft can carry a warhead weighing up to 20 kilograms (45 pounds) and fly one-way up to 1,000 kilometers (620 miles). Other drones besides Bobr probably were used in the strikes.

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Russia’s central-western Belgorod Oblast, by most accounts the Russian territory most often struck by Ukrainian fire due to its close proximity to the fighting front inside Ukraine, was reportedly hit heavily on Tuesday morning as well, with drones and unguided rockets. Local officials claimed the Ukrainian attacks targeted only civilian homes and businesses, and claimed the attacks killed 4 civilians, injured 20, and damaged 260 apartment buildings or private homes.

The independent Russian news platform Astra reported the Ukrainian strikes in Belgorod possibly targeted buildings in the center of the city used for years by the Russian military for administration, lodging and patient care. The state-run TASS news agency showed nighttime images of rocket impact damage to Belgorod’s Energomash, a power grid company.

According to unconfirmed reports in Ukrainian military media, a Russian military airfield near the Astrakhan Oblast towns of Znamensk and Akhtiubinsk was struck by drones. Buildings or objects there were set afire, and a Russian S-300 anti-aircraft system at the airbase was damaged or destroyed, the media reported.

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Russia’s Defense Ministry in a Tuesday morning situation estimate claimed air defense forces overnight had, across the fighting front, shot down a total 29 Ukrainian drones, and praised army gunners for scoring kills in Rostov, Volgograd, Kursk, Belgorod, Voronezh and Astrakhan regions. The Kremlin announcement made no mention of the refinery hits in Volgograd region or damage in the Belgorod region.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense in a Monday statement said that its deadly missile attack on central Kyiv was retaliation for earlier Ukrainian strikes against Russian “civilian” energy infrastructure.

The number of victims killed and wounded after Russia’s Monday missile attack on Ukraine, which targeting, among other things, the Ohmatdyt Children’s Hospital in Kyiv, has risen to 40 dead, including four children, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reported.

Most of those killed were in Kyiv, where 31 were reported dead and 117 injured as of the morning of July 9, the Kyiv City Military Administration stated.

Ukraine in May kicked off a campaign using kamikaze drones to hit Russian oil refineries and critical power grid nodes.

Russian air defenders have struggled to stop the aircraft often flying below radar coverage and sometimes routed through gaps in Russia’s air space protection network. According to the Bloomberg news agency Ukrainian drone attacks had, by mid-June, disrupted the operations of about half of Russia’s oil-processing plants and triggered a domestic gasoline and diesel price spike of 20-30 percent.

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