Espreso. Global
Review

Explosions and blazes: Recent incidents witnessed by Russians in Belgorod, Novocherkassk

1 April, 2024 Monday
13:10

This week, Vampire MLRS shells repeatedly disrupted the peace of the Belgorod region, while drones and missiles attacked the Novocherkassk TPP, causing a fire at the thermal power plant

Read more about explosions in Russia and the temporarily occupied territories in Espreso's weekly review.

Vampire MLRS shells over Belgorod region, fire in the region and victims

  • The Russian Ministry of Defense reported two missile attacks on the Belgorod region, purportedly occurring on the night of March 26, claiming that they successfully shot down 13 airborne targets. It was initially stated that an attack from Grad MLRS was repelled in the early morning. Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of the region, reported two allegedly injured men in one of the villages. Later, the Russian Ministry of Defense stated that the shelling allegedly occurred using RM-70 Vampire MLRS. Subsequently, they reported intercepting two Grad  shells in the morning.
  • On March 27, the Russian Ministry of Defense again announced the alleged destruction of Vampire MLRS missiles over the Belgorod region, claiming to have intercepted 18 of them. The governor reported an alleged victim, stating that an air defense system purportedly engaged targets on the approach to the city of Belgorod and its district. According to him, one male individual sustained shrapnel wounds to his lower back. Gladkov further stated that in the Belgorod district, Russian air defense seemingly repelled an aerial assault in the village of Dubovoye, resulting in damage to two apartments within a residential building, nine private houses, and six cars. "In the village of Tavrovo, two private residences and two cars had their roofs damaged. In Nikolskoye village, the roof of one private residence was breached. All emergency services are actively responding on the ground, and territorial patrols will continue throughout daylight hours," added the governor of the Belgorod region in Russia.
  • On the night of March 29, Russia once again accused Ukraine of an alleged attack on Belgorod and the region. Russian air defense systems were purportedly in operation in the region, allegedly destroying approximately 15 Vampire MLRS shells. Reports indicate that in Belgorod, windows in some high-rise buildings were purportedly smashed, and in one building, shell fragments severely damaged the balcony of an apartment. Additionally, according to the governor, the glazing at the Belgorod Arena and the gymnasium sustained damage. Gladkov stated that after repelling the air attack in the village of Dubovoye in the Belgorod district, the roof of a private house was damaged, and a car was also affected. Later, the Russian Defense Ministry clarified that 15 RM-70 Vampire MLRS shells were destroyed in the Belgorod region.
  • On Sunday, March 31, Russia claimed that its anti-aircraft defenses have shot down 10 "air targets" over Belgorod and the surrounding area, resulting in a fire and one casualty. Reportedly, a woman sustained injuries when a fire broke out in her house, resulting in second-degree burns to her hand. Gladkov confirmed that she received necessary assistance on-site and did not require hospitalization. The alleged air attack in Belgorod caused damage to one apartment building, with broken windows, and affected 18 private residential properties, resulting in two fires. Additionally, three cars were reportedly damaged by falling debris, and there was disruption to power and cold water supply lines. In the village of Maisky, damage was observed in two private houses, along with a damaged car. In Dubovoye village, one private house had broken windows, while the facade and fence were damaged. Similarly, in Tavrovo village, the fence of a private house was reportedly damaged.

Attack on Novocherkassk TPP and fire at the thermal power plant

  • On the night of March 25, a fire broke out at a thermal power plant in Novocherkassk, Rostov Region, Russia, putting two power units out of commission. The Russian Defense Ministry reported a drone attack on the region. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, air defense systems allegedly intercepted 11 Ukrainian drones over the territory of the Rostov region at night, Russian propaganda outlet RIA Novosti reports. The pro-Kremlin Telegram channel Baza wrote about the UAV attack, Astra about the explosions in the city, and the Cheka-OGPU also reported on the explosions and fire. "Due to the fire, 330 kV high-voltage lines Tikhoretskaya and Rostovskaya were automatically disconnected. Currently, power supply to consumers has been restored. Two power units of the thermal power plant have been temporarily taken out of operation," the governor said.
  • Later, Russian media reported another attack on the Novocherkassk power plant on March 25. The station was targeted not only with drones but also with missiles. The wreckage of two ballistic missiles, shot down by the air defense system, was reportedly found 500 meters from the Novocherkassk State District Power Plant. According to the outlet, there were no injuries or casualties.

Expert opinions

According to ISW, Russia cannot defend itself against Ukrainian drone attacks. The Russian military is forming mobile fire groups as part of unspecified combined arms armies, air and air defense armies to combat drones. Russian troops are likely to have difficulty properly deploying short-range air defense systems along the expected flight vectors of Ukrainian UAVs, while the Russian military appears to have failed to even cover important potential targets in well-protected areas of Russia.

"The mass deployment of mobile fire groups throughout western Russia could pose similar challenges for Russian forces, as the Russian military may not be able to sufficiently field the groups at scale," ISW emphasized.

Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi, said that the attacks of Ukrainian drones on Russian warships have been so effective that the entire strategy of the war at sea may be changed. The Commander-in-Chief emphasized that Ukraine will continue to purposefully destroy the Russian Black Sea Fleet, and the destruction of several Russian ships in Sevastopol over the past few days is only part of this process.

"Our artillerymen are using high-precision ammunition to hit enemy concentrations even tens of kilometers from the front line. Not only does the enemy suffer significant losses in manpower and equipment, including artillery systems, every day, but it can never feel safe anywhere, including the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. This is an important psychological factor. They will not have peace on our land. Never. And every occupier must realize this," Syrskyi said.

In addition, Reuters emphasizes the point that in the Russian city of Samara, the Kuibyshev Oil Refinery shut down one of its two CDU-5 primary processing units after a drone attack. This put half of the refinery's capacity out of commission. According to Reuters' estimates, the oil refining capacity lost in the first quarter due to Ukrainian drone attacks on at least seven refineries amounts to about 7% of the total, equivalent to 4.6 million tons (or 370,500 barrels per day). Last year, the Kuibyshev refinery ranked as the 29th largest in Russia based on production, contributing 1.34% to the total refining volume, which was 3.687 million tons of crude oil. Its output included 624,000 tons of gasoline (1.42% of the total Russian output), 1.187 million tons of diesel fuel (1.35%), and 1.040 million tons of fuel oil (2.56%).

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