Espreso. Global

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

29 March, 2024 Friday

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.


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.

Read also:
  • News
2024, Friday
19 April
Victorious news of 786th day of war: Ukraine’s Air Force shoots down Russian Tu-22M3, German drone manufacturer opens factory in Ukraine
Russian army attacks Ukrainian positions in Kherson region 7 times with little success — General Staff
Kherson Art Museum identifies more than 100 paintings stolen by Russia
Putin will continue war until it becomes clear who is next in White House — political analyst
What parameters should F-16 have to effectively fight Russia: aviation expert explains
Ukrainian navy explains why Russian forces rarely use Kalibr missiles
Russia will not cease fire even if talks with Ukraine start - Lavrov
What could have shot down Russian Tu-22M bomber: military expert suggests
Poland detains Russian agent planning assassination attempt on Zelenskyy
"Ukraine has weapons to shoot down Russian aircraft": Air Force comments on Tu-22M3 downing
Slovaks raise €2 million for shells for Ukraine as government fails to back Czech initiative
G7 pledges to strengthen Ukraine's air defense
G7 defines specific steps to help Ukraine, says FM Kuleba
General election in India: Relations with Ukraine and why role of Asian player shouldn't be underestimated
20 Days in Mariupol team brings Oscar to Ukraine
War will end when world understands its causes and consequences - Ukrainian diplomat
Ukraine returns 17-year-old girl deported to Russia
Ukrainian resistance in occupied territories helps army
Russian army redeploys aviation to Bakhmut sector, Ukrainian forces lack air defenses
Russia attacks Bilopillya in Sumy region, severely injuring three people
Ukraine's top diplomat discusses strengthening of air defense with Italian counterpart
Russia cancels Victory Day parade in Crimea on May 9
Ukraine needs deeply echeloned air defense system - Ukrainian Air Force
Russia attacks Ukraine, killing and injuring civilians in Dnipro and region, including children
Everything is to be decided in Europe and by Europe
"Situation is critical": Poland's PM says coming weeks could decide fate of war in Ukraine
Both U.S. congressional parties back bill to aid Ukraine — Ukraine’s PM following meetings with US officials
Ukraine's dependence on US assistance. Technological solutions and frontline update. Serhiy Zgurets's column
Explosions heard in occupied Mariupol, Russian military base hit - Advisor to Mariupol Mayor
Ukrainian photojournalist Yulia Kochetova among winners of World Press Photo-2024 Global Stage
Ukraine downs Tu-22M3 aircraft in Russia used to launch Kh-22/Kh-32 missiles at Ukraine
Russians raid and mobilize Muslims in Crimea during Eid al-Fitr holiday
Russia steps up mobilization ahead of possible summer offensive: ISW names problems that Russia may face
Air defense systems belong in cities under attack, not warehouses - Zelenskyy on massive Russian attack on Dnipro
Russia loses 870 soldiers, 9 tanks and 21 artillery systems in one day in Ukraine - General Staff
"We have no plan B": Ukraine's Foreign Minister comments on expectations from US Congress vote
2024, Thursday
18 April
Victorious news of 785th day of war: Ukraine has drones able to hit targets in Siberia, Germany will supply more air defense systems
97% of Russian attacks target civilian infrastructure - Ukraine in OSCE
Ukraine may get seven more Patriot systems from Germany and partners - Scholz
Ukraine develops drones capable of 3,000 kilometers range, reaching Siberia — The Economist
More news