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War with drones. Russia's direct losses from attacks on refineries reach $1.5 billion

29 March, 2024 Friday
17:00

A strategic operation against the Russian oil industry is a success of tactics, weapons, and command

In two months, from January 24 to March 25, 2024, the Ukrainian Defense Forces conducted a large-scale operation to destroy a strategic sector of the Russian economy - oil refineries - for the first time. Russian air defense put up a desperate fight, but thanks to good planning, coordination, and the high quality of Ukrainian-made drones, our soldiers hit 10 oil refineries, 1 gas liquefaction and processing plant, and 1 regional power plant.

Previously, Russia had suffered only one strategic blow to its economy during the war: in 2022, unknown persons blew up the Nord Stream gas pipelines, which Russia used to blackmail Europe and receive excessive profits from the EU.

However, Ukrainian drone strikes open up new and great opportunities for waging economic warfare against Russia, and for damaging Russian infrastructure and industry on a much larger scale.

They have been partially or completely shut down:

  • Tuapse refinery
  • Nizhny Novgorod refinery
  • Ryazan refinery
  • Novokuibyshevsk refinery
  • Syzran refinery
  • Ilyich Oil Refinery
  • Volgograd refinery
  • Novoshakhtinsk refinery
  • Kuibyshev refinery
  • Ust-Luga LNG plant
  • Novocherkassk State Power Plant (transformer substations).

The most vulnerable areas of the refinery - distillation columns - were chosen for high-precision strikes.

Ukrainian experts estimate the direct damage from the destruction of valuable equipment at about $1.5 billion. Indirect losses - the decline in the capacity of the Russian oil industry is estimated at more than 70 million tons per year, which is more than 25% of all Russian capacities. This has led to:

  • raising prices for gasoline in the Russian Federation by up to 50%
  • closure of gasoline exports from the Russian Federation (losses for the budget for six months of 2 billion US dollars plus a shortfall of 4 billion US dollars by oil companies)
  • reduction in production by 500,000 barrels per day (losses for the year may amount to up to 12 billion US dollars)
  • a significant reduction in fuel supplies to the Russian Armed Forces on the territory of Ukraine.

New tactics and weapons

This high efficiency was made possible by the clear formulation of the task by Supreme Commander-in-Chief Volodymyr Zelenskyy (strange as it may sound, but for the first time during the war, it is worth noting the adequacy and responsibility of the actions of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief) and the combination of several structures of the Defense Forces and the drone manufacturer.

For the first time during the war, various government agencies organized themselves, secured funding for a batch of long-range drones, a plan for their use, and coordination of several defense forces. An unprecedented event.

For the first time, state budget funds were allocated to finance the production of the Liut attack drone, a Ukrainian analog of the Iranian Shahed.

Liut was developed a year ago, in 2023, on an initiative, without a state order, but for a long time there was no attention to this project and no proper funding. But in January 2024, funding and mass production began. The Liut drones with a 50 kg warhead have shown their high combat effectiveness and reliability, resistance to all electronic warfare equipment of the Russian Armed Forces, and long range. The Kuibyshev Oil Refinery was hit at a distance of 900 km, and this is a straight-line range, and drones are not launched in a straight line, so the real range is much higher.

The attacks were effective because, for the first time in the war, the SBU, the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine, and the Ukrainian Armed Forces acted in a coordinated manner when planning the operation, conducting reconnaissance, training drones and operators, and determining tactics and procedures.

For the first time, a single coordination center has been identified, and it is the center of the Unmanned Forces of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, which have just been created but are already producing first results.

It is important to note the role of the Drone Army and the Ministry of Digital Transformation in the implementation of the program.

I congratulate all the participants and leaders of the operation and wish to increase the scale of strikes against Russia tenfold. The enemy must be held accountable for the destruction of the Ukrainian economy. US and EU sanctions have failed to reduce the value of Russian exports in two years, but Ukrainian drones have reduced Russian exports in two months. And all of this was done at a meager cost with a small number of drones.

This successful operation by Ukraine could serve as an example of actions in other areas of warfare.

Source 

About the author: Yuriy Butusov, journalist, Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier.

The editors don't always share the opinions expressed by the authors of the blogs.

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