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Ukrainian Drone Attacks on Russia During Elections

Drones. Credit: ArmedMaidan X page

March 17, 2024 (EIRNS)—Drone attacks against Russian targets have been underway since March 12, and escalated for the duration of the Russian elections (March 15-17).

On Wednesday, March 13, drones struck several of Russia’s five largest oil refineries—causing the closing of two primary oil refining units at Rosneft’s biggest plant in Ryazan, reported Reuters, and “operations at the Novoshakhtinsky oil products plant in the Rostov region were stopped after drones shot down by Russian air defenses fell on the facility, regional Governor Vasily Golubev said. Production was halted at another major refinery—Lukoil’s NORSI facility in the Nizhny Novgorod region—on Tuesday [March 12] after a drone attack caused a fire,” reported CNBC.

On March 16, RT detailed that “Kiev’s forces tried to enter the village of Kozinka, located in Russia’s Belgorod Region close to the border with Ukraine, the Defense Ministry in Moscow said on Saturday. The incursion was thwarted by the Russian military and the Border Service of the Federal Security Service (FSB), it added….

“On Friday, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin condemned the attacks as criminal acts by the ‘neo-Nazi regime’ in Kiev aimed at disrupting the presidential election, which is being held in Russia from March 15 to March 17.”

Late on March 16, there was a barrage of missile attacks from Ukrainian territory against Belgorod city, using Czech-made Vampire MLRS; reports indicate approximately 17 missiles were shot down.

The Russian Defense Ministry reported March 17 that air defense forces shot down 35 Ukrainian drones over eight Russian regions overnight and into this morning. Today is the last day of voting in Russia’s March 15-17 presidential election.

“During the past night and the morning of March 17, attempts by the Kiev regime to carry out terrorist attacks using fixed-wing drones against targets on the territory of the Russian Federation were prevented,” the ministry said, adding that 35 drones were intercepted and destroyed, reported Sputnik[(—mod-1117377530.html). According to the [Russian Defense Ministry, drones were downed over Moscow (4), Belgorod (3), Kaluga (2), Oryol (1), Rostov (1), Yaroslavl (4), Kursk (3) and Krasnodar (16) regions, added TASS. Among the targets was the Slavyansky oil refinery in the Krasnodar Region, which was attacked by several drones, according to the regional anti-crisis center. A fire broke out, but was promptly extinguished.

Analysis of this situation indicates that one purpose of these attacks was to expose the location of Russian air defense systems, setting up a bigger and more successful missile barrage either on the final day of the Russian elections, or perhaps at a later time. It is expected that the Russian forces would be working overtime to reload and, wherever feasible, relocate their air defenses in Belgorod.

AP noted that the attacks followed a series of other Ukrainian drone raids and attacks over the past few days that Putin described as an attempt by Ukraine to frighten residents and derail Russia’s presidential election. “To disrupt the election process and intimidate people, at least in the areas bordering Ukraine, the neo-Nazi Kiev regime has planned and is trying to carry out a number of demonstrative criminal armed actions. It is primarily striking civilian residential areas in Russian territory. … These enemy strikes do not and will not go unpunished,” he told the March 15 meeting of the Russian Security Council. “I am confident—our people, the people of Russia will respond to this with even greater cohesion. Who did they decide to scare? The Russian people? The multi-ethnic people of Russia?”