According to reports on Apr. 1, 2022, at least two Ukrainian Mi-24 attack helicopters sneaked inside the Russian airspace to carry out an early morning attack on an oil storage facility in Belgorod, located about 25 miles north of the border and 50 miles from Kharkiv.
Early Friday morning, videos began surfacing on social media showing blacked-out Mi-24s making rocket attack runs on a large oil storage facility in Belgorod.
The oil storage tanks are seen exploding and a massive fire ensuing, one that appears to be still burning at this time.
The tactic used by the Ukrainian pilots is pretty clear: they have flown at ultra-low levels to avoid detection by the Russian Aerospace Forces radars until they have reached the target area, where they have used what appears to be S-8 unguided rockets, before egressing the area at a low level.
Ukraine’s top security official, however, denied Ukrainian forces were behind the attack.
“For some reason, they are saying we are behind it. This does not correspond to reality,” security council secretary Oleksiy Danilov said.
Ukrainian aircraft have not struck targets in Russia previously.
Yet Belgorod governor Vyacheslav Gladkov accused Ukraine of launching the attack, and later Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov gave details.
He said that at around 05:00 Moscow time (02:00 GMT) two Ukrainian Mi-24 helicopters entered Russian airspace at extremely low altitude and “launched a missile attack on a civilian oil storage facility” on the outskirts of Belgorod. Some storage tanks were damaged and caught fire, he said.
“The oil storage facility has nothing to do with the Russian armed forces,” he said.
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said the incident “cannot be perceived as creating comfortable conditions for continuing the talks” with Kyiv. So far those peace talks have made little progress.
The spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Russia was now trying to reorganise the fuel supply chain to prevent disruption of Belgorod’s energy supplies.
The city of 370,000 lies just north of Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv, which has been heavily shelled by Russian artillery and remains surrounded by Russian forces.