MOSCOW: In an escalating series of attacks in Russia amid the Ukraine offensive, two drones damaged an administration building of an oil pipeline in Russia’s western Pskov region, the regional governor said Saturday.

“Early morning, an explosion damaged the administrative building of the oil pipeline near Litvinovo, Nevelsky district,” Governor Mikhail Vedernikov said.

Shortly after, he said that, according to preliminary information, the building was “damaged as a result of an attack by two unmanned aerial vehicles.” There were no reported casualties, and an investigation was still ongoing.

The blast took place in the Litvinovo village, 10km from the Belarusian border.

Two killed in renewed shelling in border areas

Unconfirmed reports from Baza, a Russian Telegram outlet with sources in the secret services, said the drones were targeting the Tran­sneft oil pumping station in Pskov.

Baza also reported an attack targeting an oil refinery near Erokhino, in the western Tver region.

The Tver region press service said a drone had crashed near Erokhino without injuring anyone, but did not give any more details.

Just a day ago, two drones had damaged buildings in the centre of the southern Russian city of Krasnodar, which had been relatively unaffected. Moscow has blamed Kyiv — and its Western supporters — for the escalating number of attacks and sabotage operations, including on the Kremlin.

On Saturday, the Belgorod governor said his region had come under fire again, a day after dozens of strikes. Shelling in Russian regions bordering Ukraine killed two people on Saturday, regional authorities said.

“One person was killed. He was a security guard... he was outside at the time of the shelling” in the Shebekino area, Vyacheslav Gladkov said. He said others were wounded, including a 15- and17-year-old.

Belogorod witnessed an unprecedented two-day incursion from Ukraine this week and Moscow used planes and artillery to push back the attackers. In Kursk, another region bordering Ukraine, mortar shelling killed a builder, governor Roman Starovoit said on social media.

Ukraine seeks missiles

Meanwhile, Ukraine asked Berlin to provide it with Taurus air-to-surface missiles that have a range of in excess of 500km, Germany’s defence ministry said.

“We have a received a request from the Ukrainian side in recent days,” a ministry spokesman said, without providing further details.

The request comes as Ukraine prepares to launch a counteroffensive in an effort to wrestle back territory seized by Russia since Moscow invaded its neighbour in February 2022, sparking the biggest conflict on European soil since World War II.

The missiles, produced by a Germany-Swedish joint venture Taurus Systems, would allow Ukraine to strike well inside Russia with their range of more than 500km. The United States and other Western countries providing arms to Ukraine have up to now been cautious on giving Kyiv weapons that could reach inside nuclear-armed Russia, potentially widening the conflict.

Previously seen as reticent on supplying weapons, Germany has become the second-biggest contributor of military assistance to Ukraine after the United States.

It is currently preparing its biggest-yet military aid package, including anti-missile systems, 30 additional Leopard 1 tanks, more than 100 armoured combat vehicles and more than 200 surveillance drones. But it has so far been cautious on the issue of fighter jets and air-to-surface missiles.

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2023

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