Ukraine update: Ukraine’s well-calculated strikes inside Russia have multiple effects

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.

#Bryansk, #Russia – The Druzhba oil depot in the city exploded overnight in #Bryansk. An additional explosion occurred nearby as well that was purportedly a #Russian ammo storage area. The cause of the explosion is not known, however other 🇷🇺 oil depots have exploded recently.

— OSINT Aggregator (@AggregateOsint) April 25, 2022

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.

Am ammo depot was burning in Belgorod region near Ukraine this morning after air defenses were firing at something in the neighboring Kursk region. The authorities won’t say what. Bryansk oil depot was on fire Monday. Has the war crossed into Russia?

— Alec Luhn (@ASLuhn) April 27, 2022

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.

This footage is shot from the northwest, and shows explosions and smoke in the area of the #Irmino mine (48.600902, 38.574065) in Luhansk. The circulating belief is that ammo storage is the source of the fire. @geoconfirmed

— erich_auerbach (@zcjbrooker) April 26, 2022

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.

Wednesday, Apr 27, 2022 · 4:21:52 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

The Secretary General of the United Nations has arrived in Ukraine. 

I have arrived in Ukraine after visiting Moscow. We will continue our work to expand humanitarian support & secure the evacuation of civilians from conflict zones. The sooner this war ends, the better – for the sake of Ukraine, Russia, and the world.

— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) April 27, 2022

Wednesday, Apr 27, 2022 · 4:26:44 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Transnistria is under the equivalent of martial law following an (odd, and possibly staged) attack on government buildings Tiraspol that took place on Monday.

📷#Transnistria. Checkpoints have been setup at all entrances to the cities, police patrols the streets. The special regime should last 15 days. #Moldova

— (@Militarylandnet) April 27, 2022

“The First Pridnestrovian Channel” published a video of the attack on the building of the Ministry of State Security in #Tiraspol on April 25.

— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) April 27, 2022

Wednesday, Apr 27, 2022 · 4:49:25 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

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. 

⚡️ Reuters: Russia expects its oil production to fall by up to 17% in 2022. The U.S. ban on Russian oil imports along with other sanctions on Russian banks and vessels “had crippled the oil trade,” Reuters reports, citing an economy ministry’s document.

— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) April 27, 2022

Wednesday, Apr 27, 2022 · 5:03:21 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

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.

Russian soldiers marauding each other. In this intercepted call, father of a Russian son asks him to bring him some pistols, the son instead suggests he can only bring an ATGM.

— Dmitri 🇺🇦 (@mdmitri91) April 27, 2022

Wednesday, Apr 27, 2022 · 5:10:35 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

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?

Wednesday, Apr 27, 2022 · 5:37:04 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Widows of slain Russian soldiers. The faces say everything. In their hands they hold compensation (not sure if stately or some random help) of 10,000 RUB – around $150.

— Dmitri 🇺🇦 (@mdmitri91) April 25, 2022

Wednesday, Apr 27, 2022 · 6:16:36 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Russian Tos-1A crosses a pontoon bridge in Kharkiv oblast. Please don’t ask about the tank on the left and apc on the right. They’re just taking a bath.

— Julian Röpcke🇺🇦 (@JulianRoepcke) April 27, 2022

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