Burning issue: Ukraine says targeting Russian oil infrastructure is legitimate, despite US demands for Kyiv to stop doing so. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)


Russian oil terminals ‘legitimate targets’, Kyiv insists


Olha Stefanishyna, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration, said Russian oil refineries were legitimate targets for its forces. The statement followed a media report claiming the US, a close ally, had asked Kyiv to stop conducting drone strikes on refineries.

Ukraine dramatically stepped up its attacks on Russian energy facilities this month, launching numerous long-range drones to strike Russia’s biggest refineries, resulting in the temporary suspension of production at some of them.

“We understand the calls of the US partners, but at the same time we are fighting with the capabilities, resources, and practices that we have,” Stefanishyna told the Kyiv Security Forum on March 22.

She said energy facilities were legitimate targets from a military point of view.

The Financial Times cited people familiar with the matter saying Washington had urged Kyiv to halt strikes, warning of the risk of provoking retaliation and driving up global oil prices.

The attacks helped boost oil prices that have risen nearly 4 per ent so far since March 12, when Ukraine hit a major oil refinery.

Russia’s defence ministry said on March 22 its fresh wave of strikes on Ukraine’s infrastructure was part of a series of revenge attacks aimed at punishing Kyiv for its earlier incursions into Russian territory.

The ministry said it successfully struck a number of power grid objects, railway nodes, ammunition depots and other targets.

The latest incidents came as Ukraine’s state-owned oil and gas company Naftogaz said on March 22 its facilities had been damaged in overnight Russian strikes on Ukraine’s energy system.

“Specialists are already working on restoring the damage, electricity supply has already been restored to some of the [affected] facilities, our gas workers are also working on restoring damaged gas networks,” Naftogaz said.

It did not provide details of what was hit.

Additional reporting by Reuters