TechUkraine targets Russian oil assets with drones and sabotage teams

Ukraine targets Russian oil assets with drones and sabotage teams

Slaviansk Refinery on fire
Slaviansk Refinery on fire
Images source: © X | UK R Report
10:04 AM EDT, March 23, 2024
In recent months, Ukrainian forces have intensified their operations against Russian oil infrastructure, a key financial backbone for Russia. Here’s an overview of their tactics.
Ukrainian forces have targeted over 13 oil refining companies, including facilities in the Samara region, located approximately 559 miles from the front lines.

These attacks significantly impact Russia, as international sanctions complicate the repair of damaged equipment. There have even been discussions about Russia acquiring anti-aircraft systems from North Korea to safeguard its infrastructure.

The tools of Ukrainian strategy

While Ukraine possesses advanced weaponry capable of striking from hundreds of kilometers away, such as the Storm Shadow cruise missiles and the MGM-140 ATACMS ballistic missiles, they refrain from using them against targets within Russia.
Instead, they employ a variety of drones capable of hitting targets over 621 miles away and deploy sabotage groups inside Russia, utilizing drones with shorter ranges. Notably, drones constructed from cardboard prove especially easy to smuggle deep into Russian territory.

One category of these drones is engineered to fly hundreds of miles, targeting areas around Moscow. These drones typically rely on an inertial navigation system, enhanced by GPS, to find their way—an efficient setup that can be compromised by signal interference.

These drones are powered either by hobbyist engines or, in some cases, jet engines, carrying explosives ranging from a few to several dozen pounds. Although not designed for military engagements, they are particularly effective against large stationary targets like oil refineries.

Among the drones used, models include the Rubaka, with a range of about 311 miles; the Bobr, with twice that range; and the UJ-22 "Airborne," capable of flying up to 497 miles, as reported by journalist Karolina Modzelewska. Ukraine also utilizes modified Soviet drones, such as the Tu-141 "Striж," with a range of up to 932 miles and capable of carrying 330 pounds of explosives.

This variety of attack methods places significant pressure on Russia's defensive capabilities, requiring the reallocation of air defense systems from the front lines to protect critical infrastructure. This strategic move enables the Ukrainians to identify and exploit new opportunities.
Related content