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Russian Oil Depot Strike – OpEd

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Different schools of thought were trying to explain who is responsible for the strike on a Russian oil depot in the border region of Belgorod? TV channels across the world have been debating for answers especially in India. Some American guests wishing it to be an Ukrainian action and then justifying it as a positive action in self defence which should have started earlier. Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov claimed it as the result of airstrikes conducted by two Ukrainian Air Force helicopters that entered Russian airspace at low altitude. Some even alleged Moscow itself had staged the strike!

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The Russian Defense Ministry later confirmed Gladkov’s account, adding that the helicopters had taken “advantage of terrain folds” to penetrate Russain territory. At a press conference in Poland, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said “he could neither confirm nor deny the attack”. Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesperson Oleksandr Motuzyanyk speaking to reporters.”I want to note that as of today, the Ukrainian state is carrying out a defense operation to repel armed Russian aggression on the territory of Ukraine.” A senior Ukrainian intelligence official who spoke to Newsweek on the condition of anonymity said with “99.9%” certainty that the attack was actually a Russian strike conducted deliberately to place the blame on Ukraine.

The media and the Ukrainian officials have added to the confusion initially denying and also talking about self defence and in the same breath blaming Russia. “In order to fly to Belgorod, it was necessary to fly through the entire territory of the DPR unnoticed and return back!”An alternative explanation offered by military expert Alexey Leonov in an interview “the helicopter attack was a planned, coordinated operation for which intelligence agencies of NATO countries participated in the preparations.” Surprisingly both the US-NATO which has supported Ukraine politically, economically and militarily throughout the conflict and the eight-year war that preceded it against insurgents in the Donbas, has been silent on the attack.

The big Question is does Russia require any excuse to further escalate the near 40 days old war after having plastered third of Ukraine into ground? Both Russia and Ukraine are in favour to end this unwanted war now. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov warned, however, that the incident could hamper ongoing negotiations between the two sides geared toward resolving the conflict.Whom does this escalation and prolonging the war help? There are more questions than answers to this mystery attack or is all a fake manipulated image and the media in full swing to take advantage of this juicy story. Kyiv and Moscow both have repeatedly accused one another of conducting “false flag” attacks as justification for military operations, and both sides have utilized extensive information warfare in an attempt to control the narrative of the war in their favour.

Media has opted for a bias in the coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war now in favour of the west and NATO.A video posted by the Socialist Equality Party of Germany opposing the German government’s participation in the US-led NATO proxy war against Russia in Ukraine titled ‘No Third World War! against the war in Ukraine, NATO aggression and German rearmament!’ The video had explained that after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the US sought to establish its global supremacy through the countless wars in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and many other countries, any threat to US hegemony was to be eliminated. The video has since been removed.

After the latest round of talks between Russia and Ukraine in Turkey both sides said the negotiations released positive signals. Ukraine proposed adopting neutral status in exchange for security guarantees from the international community. Russia said the country would sharply cut military activity around Kiev. After such positive signals would Russia and Ukraine indulge in such an attack to escalate the ongoing war?

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US-led NATO continue  to be refraining from a security guarantee, which will lead to de-escalation of the situation,Biden told Zelensky that the US will send an additional $500 million in aid to Ukraine. The US-led NATO aid says it all, “Ukraine, you need to continue the stalemate with Russia so that I can help you out.” For example, the US and the EU signed historic deal on gas – superficially, the deal aims to help Europe reduce dependence on Russia, but essentially it will make Europe more dependent on the US. However, Russia continues to supply gas to Europe in spite of the ongoing war.

Shifting to Hybrid War’ and war of Mercenaries

Ukraine’s call to invite volunteers to fight against the invading Russian Forces in Ukraine may hasten up the process of initiation of hybrid war in Europe. The weapons being supplied by the US and European Nations are primarily small arms, anti-tank weapons and man portable air defence systems, that are best suited for hit and run tactics in built-up areas. The only option Ukraine has now is to counter ‘Russia through Hybrid War’ if the war does not end soon. “Hybrid Wars incorporate a range of different modes of warfare, including conventional capabilities, irregular tactics, terrorist acts including indiscriminate violence and coercion, and criminal disorder”. Could the strike on Belgorod Russian oil depot be part of this Hybrid War?

‘Kamikaze Drones’ strike ?

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine is witnessing the use of ‘Suicide Drones’, a new addition to this   Hybrid warfare. Russian troops have been using low-flying  small drones to attack targets in Ukraine. Ukrainian drones have largely been involved in surveillance missions.  US  has agreed to supply the 100 Switchblade drones with a longer range, as part of a military package at short notice.  These are termed as  ‘Kamikaze Drones’ because they can be flown directly into the target, after which it explodes. The term ‘Kamikaze’ refers to the tactic employed by Japanese pilots in World War II of loading up small planes with explosives and flying them directly into Allied warships.This drone with the electro-optical and infrared cameras can precisely identify and hit a target.Ukraine is likely to deploy these drones to hit Russian supply lines. So could it be a  US ‘Kamikaze Drones’ strike on the Russian Oil Depot?

It is said in wars truth is the first casualty and so has been the case in this war as well.Fake news and propaganda has been on the higher side from both sides.So wonder what the real truth is and who is the attacker. Why should Ukraine carry out a retaliatory strike at this belated stage? Claims of Ukrainian Air Force helicopters  entering Russian airspace to go deep and physically attack the Russian Oil Depot seem remote!Both Russia and Ukraine are in favour to end this unwanted war early so is it the West who is trying to prolong and convert this war into a Hybrid War?

Reference:Mystery Surrounds Russia Oil Site Strike Blamed on Ukraine, Claimed By None

Patial RC

Patial RC is a retired Infantry officer of the Indian Army and possesses unique experience of serving in active CI Ops across the country and in Sri Lanka. Patial RC is a regular writer on military and travel matters in military professional journals. The veteran is a keen mountaineer and a trekker.

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