By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — A Russian fuel depot not far from the Ukrainian border has exploded and Russian officials say Ukrainian forces used helicopters to attack the facility.
Ukrainian defense officials declined to comment directly on reports that Ukrainian forces were behind the April 1 attack. The secretary of Ukraine’s National Security Council outright denied the report
If confirmed, it would be the first attack on Russian soil by Ukraine since Moscow invaded more than a month ago. It would also be the first military attack on Russian soil by a foreign force since World War II.
Video posted to social media early on April 1 showed an explosion and flames in the predawn night sky near Belgorod, which is around 25 kilometers from the border with Ukraine.
Other videos showed what they said were helicopters near Belgorod firing rockets or missiles.
Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov, meanwhile, said on messaging app Telegram that the helicopters struck the facility after crossing the border at low altitude. Gladkov said that two workers were injured.
Speaking to reporters, a Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesman refused to comment directly on whether its forces were responsible for the blast, but said its armed forces were conducting “defense operations” against Russia more broadly.
“Ukraine is currently conducting a defensive operation against Russian aggression on the territory of Ukraine, and this does not mean that Ukraine is responsible for every catastrophe on Russia’s territory,” Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said. “I will not confirm or deny these allegations.”
Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security Council, later issued an outright denial. “For some reason they say that we did it, but in fact this does not correspond with reality,” Danilov said on Ukrainian television.
State-owned oil company Rosneft, which owns the fuel depot, said in a separate statement that no one was hurt in the fire. It gave no information on the cause.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, meanwhile, said the incident could undermine the negotiations between Russian and Ukrainian representatives.
“Certainly, this is not something that can be perceived as creating comfortable conditions for the continuation of the talks,” Peskov told reporters in Moscow.