Ukrainian military helicopters strike inside Russia – local official

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A video allegedly showing a burning oil depot in the Russian city of Belgorod has been blamed on Ukrainian military helicopters by a local official.

Plumes of smoke are seen rising into the sky in the images shared widely on social media and tweeted by news outlet Nexta, as well as reported by news outlets including Voice of America, the BBC and Reuters.

In a message on the Telegram messaging app, Belgorod regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said that “the fire at the oil depot occurred as a result of an airstrike by two helicopters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, who entered the territory of Russia at low altitude. There are no casualties.”

It is the first accusation of a Ukrainian airstrike on Russian soil since the war began on February 24, Reuters reported.

Kyiv has yet to comment on the allegations, and Newsweek contacted the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense for comment.

Nexta tweeted a video of helicopters which it said was filmed by local residents. Video footage of the alleged attack posted online showed what looked like multiple missiles fired at low altitude followed by an explosion, Reuters reported, although the footage was unverified.

In a series of messages on Telegram, Gladkov said two oil workers were injured but their lives were not in danger and residents of surrounding districts had been relocated “to a safer place”.

Russian oil company Rosneft, which owns the fuel depot, said no one was hurt in the fire but gave no information on its cause.

Local emergency services told Russian media RIA Novosti that eight fuel tanks occupying 2,000 cubic meters were on fire and there was a risk the fire could spread to eight others. Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry said 170 people were at the site trying to put out the blaze.

It comes just two days after explosions at an arms warehouse in Belgorod, just north of the Ukrainian border.

Videos and images of the explosions and fires were shared on Twitter and Telegram, alongside claims that it was caused by a counter-offensive strike by Ukrainian forces with an OTR-21 Tochka, or “Tochka-U “, a Soviet-made tactical ballistic missile. .

However, as previously pointed out Newsweek in a Factcheck, information from Russian and Ukrainian officials suggested the explosion was caused by human error and not a Ukrainian airstrike.

A screenshot of footage shared on social media of a fire at an oil depot in the Russian city of Belgorod. The regional governor blamed Kyiv forces for the fire, although the cause was not confirmed.
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