Is Ukraine conducting a sabotage campaign inside Russia

A deadly fire at an aerospace research institute in Tver, northwest of Moscow. Another fire in an ammunition factory in Perm, more than 1,100 kilometers to the east. And fires in two separate oil depots in Bryansk, near Belarus.

Coincidences or a sign that the Ukrainians or their supporters are organizing a sabotage campaign inside Russia to punish Moscow for invading their country?

Since the fire at the Central Research Institute of the Aerospace Defense Forces in Tver on April 21, which killed at least 17 people, social media has skipped every report of a fire somewhere in Russia, especially in a sensitive location, as a sign that the country is under secret attack.

No one claims responsibility, but analysts say at least some of the incidents, particularly those in Bryansk, indicate a possible effort by Kiev to bring war to their invaders.

In a post on Telegram, Mykhaylo Podolyak, senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, called the fires “divine intervention”.

“Large fuel depots burn periodically … for various reasons,” he wrote. “Karma is a cruel thing.”

‘We do not deny’

In a huge country like Russia, a fire in a remote factory or building wouldn’t normally raise eyebrows.

But since Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 24, more than a dozen fires spotted by people documenting the war have attracted enormous attention on social media amid fears that there is a concerted campaign of willful terror. by the Ukrainians.

The fires at the end of last month in the Russian Far East – at an air base north of Vladivostok and at a coal-fired power plant in Sakhalin – have also raised suspicions.

And on Wednesday, a massive fire hit a chemical plant in Dzerzhinsk, east of Moscow.

“Russian saboteurs against Putin continue their heroic work,” said Igor Sushko, a Ukrainian racing car driver who regularly posts photos and videos on Twitter of alleged acts of sabotage within Russia, but offers no evidence that were intentional.

Another Zelensky adviser, Oleksiy Arestovych, was equally opaque The New York Timesnoting that Israel never admits its secret attacks and murders.

“We don’t confirm and we don’t deny,” he said.

Part of the strategy?

War analysts believe that the hells in Bryansk, which affected the facilities that send oil to Europe, were deliberate and related to the war.

Anonymous analysts behind “Ukraine Weapons Tracker,” a Twitter account that publishes detailed accounts with video supporting both sides’ attacks, said they received “reliable” information that the Bryansk fires were the result of the attacks by Ukrainian drones Bayraktar.

“If accurate, this story shows once again the ability of Ukrainian forces to carry out attacks on Russian territory using long-range resources,” they wrote.

“I think it was probably a Ukrainian attack, but we can’t be sure,” said Rob Lee, another war analyst. The Guardians.

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Added to this were a series of apparent bombardments by helicopters and drones and evident acts of sabotage against the infrastructure in Kursk and in the Belgorod oblast on the Ukrainian border, close to the fighting.

The governors of Belgorod and Kursk both accused saboteurs and attackers from Ukraine of the fires and destruction of infrastructure such as railway bridges.

The April 1 attack on a fuel depot in Belgorod, Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov stated on his Telegram channel as the result of “an air strike by two helicopters of the Ukrainian armed forces, which entered the territory of Russia in low altitude”.

“Nothing that would confirm Ukrainian sabotage, except that many of the fires appeared to target strategic / military targets,” said Phillips O’Brien, professor of strategic studies at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

Such attacks “certainly appear to be part of their strategy,” he said.

Pentagon officials said Russian forces inside Ukraine are hampered by weak supply chains and that attacks on their infrastructure would further affect their war effort.

But US officials will not comment on whether, deeper within Russia, there is an active sabotage campaign targeting targets not so directly related to the invasion.