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Russia claims over 100 downed drones amid reports of massive attack on port, oil facilities

by Chris York and The Kyiv Independent news desk May 17, 2024 9:15 AM 3 min read
Illustrative photo: Russia's Black Sea Fleet warships take part in the Navy Day celebrations in the port city of Novorossiysk on July 30, 2023. (Photo by Stringer/AFP via Getty Images)
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Ukraine allegedly launched a massive attack overnight on Russian targets, including the Novorossiysk port and oil facilities, with the Kremlin claiming to have destroyed more than 100 air and naval drones on May 17.

In a post on Telegram, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed 102 aerial and six naval drones had been intercepted and destroyed and did not report any damage or casualties.

"Air defense systems destroyed and intercepted 51 UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles – edit.) over the territory of the Crimean peninsula, 44 UAVs over the territory of Krasnodar Krai, six UAVs over the territory of Belgorod Oblast, and one UAV over the territory of Kursk Oblast," it wrote.

"During the night, naval aviation and patrol boats of the Black Sea Fleet destroyed six unmanned boats in the Black Sea."

The claims could not be independently verified. Russian authorities regularly claim to have downed Ukrainian missiles and drones without reporting damage, though later reports at times emerge showing military targets or infrastructure that appear to have been struck.

If confirmed, it would be the largest drone attack by Ukraine throughout the entire full-scale war. A previous attack in March saw the Kremlin claiming to have downed 65 drones.

The Kyiv Independent contacted Ukraine's military intelligence for confirmation of the attack and was told information is still being clarified.

Russian media and local Telegram channels reported multiple explosions in Novorossiysk in Krasnodar Krai on Russia's Black Sea coast.

The port in Novorossiysk is where Moscow began redeploying its Black Sea Fleet after a series of devastating Ukrainian strikes, including a missile attack on its headquarters in Sevastopol on Sept. 22, 2023.

According to locals, the attack also hit the city's oil infrastructure. Both the Novorossiysk Fuel oil terminal and the Transneft terminal were attacked.

Unverified videos posted to social media also reportedly showed Ukrainian drone strikes on the Tuapse oil refinery, also located on Russia's Black Sea coast.

The oil refinery caught fire after the drone's fragments fell, according to Krasnodar Krai operational headquarters. A fire was reportedly extinguished and no casualties were reported.

Ukrainian forces have continued launching drone strikes targeting Russia's oil industry this spring.

Kyiv says these attacks are carried out to undermine Russia's military operations and retaliate against Moscow's strikes on Ukrainian energy infrastructure.

Ukraine's military intelligence (HUR) earlier confirmed that it carried out a successful drone attack against an oil base in Russia's Rostov Oblast on May 15.

Strikes against Russian energy targets have prompted criticism from U.S. officials, who have made it clear that Washington does not support Ukraine's attacks on oil refineries, citing fears that it could threaten the global energy market.

In response, President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Kyiv has the right to use its own weapons to strike deep inside Russia.

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