March 16, 2024

Institute for the Study of War: Ukrainian drones strike 3 Russian oil refineries

Institute for the Study of War

The Ukrainian State Security Service (SBU) reportedly conducted a series of successful drone strikes against three Russian oil refineries in Samara Oblast on March 16. Sources in Ukrainian special services told Ukrainian outlet RBK-Ukraine that the SBU struck the Novokuibyshevsky, Kuibyshevsky, and Syzran Rosneft oil refineries in Samara Oblast. RBK-Ukraine reported that the three refineries process an estimated 25 million tons of oil per year, or 10 percent of Russia’s annual oil refinement output. Geolocated footage published on March 16 shows a fire at the Syzran oil refinery following the drone strikes, and Samara Oblast Governor Dmytro Azarov stated that there was also a fire at the refinery in Novokuibyshevsky. Russian outlet Kommersant reported on March 13 that Russian authorities recently strengthened anti-drone protection at the Novokuibyshevsky, Kuibyshevsky, and Syzran oil refineries following previous Ukrainian drone strikes targeting Russian oil infrastructure and reported on March 14 that Russian oil and gas and industrial enterprises are currently the main purchasers of anti-drone systems in Nizhny Novgorod Oblast. Kommersant also reported that Rosneft has not restarted operations at the Tuapse oil refinery following the January 25 Ukrainian drone strike against the facility, indicating that the January 25 strike likely significantly damaged the facility. Russian milbloggers deliberated whether the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) or Rosgvardia are to blame for not protecting Russian oil refineries and criticized general Russian bureaucracy for delaying the deployment of anti-drone countermeasures and air defense systems to defend Russian critical infrastructure operators against Ukrainian drone strikes. One Russian milblogger asked why Russia has not been able to implement even an “elementary decision,” such as copying Ukraine’s mobile fire groups, to defend against drone strikes.

All-Russian pro-Ukrainian volunteers continue limited cross-border raids into Belgorod and Kursk oblasts. The all-Russian pro-Ukrainian Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK) stated on March 16 that it is continuing a “limited military operation” in Belgorod and Kursk oblasts and denied previous Russian claims about the RDK, Freedom of Russia Legion (LSR), and Siberian Battalion suffering heavy losses in raids in recent days. The RDK posted footage of alleged Russian prisoners of war (POW) that it recently captured and called on Belgorod Oblast Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov to meet in order to negotiate the exchange of 25 Russian POWs. The Russian MoD claimed that Russian forces repelled the cross border raids near Popivka, Sumy Oblast, and in the direction of Spodaryushino and Kozinka in Belgorod Oblast.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Ukrainian State Security Service (SBU) reportedly conducted a series of successful drone strikes against three Russian oil refineries in Samara Oblast on March 16.
  • All-Russian pro-Ukrainian volunteers continue limited cross-border raids into Belgorod and Kursk oblasts.
  • Russian authorities appointed Boris Kovalchuk, the son of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s reported “personal banker” Yuri Kovalchuk, to a position within the Russian Presidential Administration.
  • Russian authorities threatened Russian election disruptors and some Russian citizens’ continued attempts to disrupt voting in the Russian presidential election on March 16.
  • Group of Seven (G7) countries issued a joint statement on March 15 warning Iran against transferring ballistic missiles or related technology to Russia.
  • Russian forces made confirmed advances near Avdiivka and in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area.
  • A Russian insider source claimed on March 16 that Rosgvardia Director Viktor Zolotov revoked a reported agreement allowing former Wagner Group units to operate independently within Rosgvardia.

   For full report:  https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-16-2024

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