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Disaster for Vladimir Putin as oil refineries erupt into flames in double overnight blitz

Vladimir Putin was left red-faced after two refineries in Russia were engulfed by flames following a night of intense drone attacks.

A fleet of drones, which the Russian Defence Ministry claimed to be Ukrainian, caused explosions and fires at the plants in the early hours of March 12.

The facilities were located in the Oryol and Nizhny Novgorod regions in western Russia, around 93 and 621 miles away from the Ukrainian border respectively.

Pictures shared on the messaging platform Telegram showed firefighters trying to quash the blazes, with flames that could be seen from miles away rising from the plants.

One of the sites hit by the drone attack, the one in Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, is LUKOIL-Nizhegorodnefteorgsintez, one of Russia’s largest refineries.

Located in the city of Kstovo, it processes around 15 million tonnes of oil per year – around five percent of the total volume of Russia’s refining.

The drone attack forced the oil processing plant to come, at least temporarily, to a halt, Russian media said.

Gleb Nikitin, governor of the Nizhny Novgorod region since 2018, said the fire started in one of the oil processing units at the plant.

Similarly, in Oryol, one petroleum tank went up in flames following the attack, the Russian state-news agency RIA wrote.

There were no immediate reports of victims at the two plants targeted by the drones.

Oryol and Kstovo were just two of the areas targeted overnight by drones, with the Russian Defence Ministry claiming to have either shot down or intercepted 25 unmanned aerial vehicles across a total of nine regions.

A drone was reportedly downed over the Ramensky district as it was nearing Moscow.

In Belgorod, a region neighbouring Ukraine, seven settlements were left without electricity after drones inflicted damage on a power line in Novaya Tavolzhanka, according to local governor Vyacheslav Gladkov.

Ukraine hasn’t yet claimed responsibility for these attacks, as it has rarely done for incidents outside of its internationally-recognised borders.


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