On Sunday, a pair of fuel deports in Bryansk, Russia, roughly 100 miles from the border with Ukraine, exploded into flames. As with the fuel depot that “mysteriously” burned in Belgorod, Russia, back on March 31 (after two Ukrainian helicopters were seen zipping past in a daring treetop-level raid), Ukrainian officials are being cagey about the cause of the explosions at Bryansk. But there seems almost no doubt that the fires were started by a carefully targeted Ukrainian assault that avoided hitting civilian targets and went straight for vital military supplies.
Speaking of Belgorod, there was another explosion in Belgorod oblast early on Wednesday morning. In this case, an ammunition storage area in the village of Staraya Nelidovka, barely 10 miles from the Ukrainian border, went up in a series of spectacular explosions.
Belgorod wasn’t the only ammunition storage facility to blow sky high in the last 24 hours. Another mystery fire broke out at a smaller ammunition storage facility in the Russian-occupied area of Luhansk. This time, it was near the town of Pervomaisk. Except this was no mystery at all, since this was close enough that it may have been shelled from Ukrainian forces still struggling to hold the town of Popasna just a handful of miles to the west.
The amount and nature of ammunition lost at Pervomaisk and Staraya Nelidovka is hard to estimate, and it’s not clear that it will have a great impact on Russia’s efforts in the war, except that both these attacks should indicate to Russia that their ammunition storage facilities are vulnerable. That might generate a tendency not to stockpile as much material in a single location. Considering the difficulties that Russia is already having with logistics, making them sweat the placement of materials has some value on its own.
When it comes to the destruction of the fuel supplies at Bryansk, those 1,500 tons represent about 430,000 gallons, or roughly 170,000 miles of travel for T-72 tanks. The earlier strike at the fuel depot in Belgorod generated rationing of fuel across a wide area.
But it’s not just the diesel that’s going missing—it’s the ability to store large amounts of diesel close to the area of combat. The missing tanks at Belgorod and Bryansk may not put any real cap on the fuel available to Russian forces; however, they could definitely mean that fuel tankers hauling supplies to those forces have a much more lengthy round trip. As with the strikes on ammo depots, that’s a direct attack on Russia’s fragile ability to juggle logistics.
One other thing that might shake Russia up just a bit: Bryansk is almost exactly halfway between Kyiv and Moscow.
The Secretary General of the United Nations has arrived in Ukraine.
Transnistria is under the equivalent of martial law following an (odd, and possibly staged) attack on government buildings Tiraspol that took place on Monday.
As Russia starts to cut off nations which refuse to pay in rubles (on contracts that specify payments in dollars or euros), the value of Russian oil is decreasing. It doesn’t matter what oil is going for on the world market, if Russia doesn’t get to sell on that market.
Twitter user @Dmitri has translated a number of interesting conversations between Russian soldiers in Ukraine and family members back home. But few of them are so twisted as this “wholesome” family conversation between a father and son over which military systems the son should steal.
Seriously, that whole conversation could be a dark comedy sketch. I can’t get machine gun. You want missile? I don’t want missile, how about pistol? No pistol. Land mine?
Listen to Markos and Kerry Eleveld talk Ukraine and speak with Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair Ben Wikler on how hitting back at Republicans helps win elections on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast