Russia Accidentally Blows Up Own Oil Refinery in Attack, Ukraine Claims

Russian forces have blown up an oil refinery owned by Russia in Luhansk province, according to The Kyiv Independent.

The Ukrainian media outlet says a Russian aircraft fired on its own oil refinery in Lysychansk. The refinery is owned by Rosneft, the state-controlled oil giant.

The first reports of the incident came from the governor of Luhansk province—or oblast—Serhiy Haidai on Telegram, who claimed that Russian troops. had "fired at the Lysychansk plant" and that a separate shelling in the city of Severodonetsk had hit a line of people outside a grocery shop, killing one and injuring 10.

Luhanks Oil Refinery Ukraine Russia
The Lysychansk oil refinery in Luhansk, owned by Russian state-controlled company Rosneft, is seen in this Google Earth satellite image. Google Earth

A fire broke out near the Lysychansk plant after the shelling, according to Haidai, who said firefighters rushed to the scene to battle the blaze at the refinery.

Newsweek is still trying to independently verify the claim of the attack.

Luhanks Oil Refinery Ukraine Russia Fire
A fire can be seen close to the Lysychansk oil refinery in this screenshot from a Zoom Earth heat map. Heat maps are not available in real time but are updated daily. Zoom Earth

Rosneft is the second largest state-controlled company in Russia after Gazprom, and one of the most profitable in the country.

The plant in Lysychansk is capable of processing 16 million tons of oil per year, according to Ukrainian media, but has reportedly been closed for repairs since 2012. It is thought that the plant was not in operation at the time of the reported attack.

What Is Happening in Luhansk?

Luhansk province is part of the Donbas region, which has been the scene of conflict between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces since 2014. The separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts have declared themselves independent from Kyiv, but Ukraine reportedly retains control of the northern part of Luhansk.

Russia's parliament, the Duma, recognized the two breakaway provinces on February 21 with a bill signed by President Vladimir Putin. Moscow has made their full recognition one of its conditions for ending the conflict.

The region is densely populated, with an estimated population of 6 to 7 million people before the war broke out. Millions of people are believed to have left since Russia's invasion.

According to a statement from Haidai in early March, Russian troops now control 70 percent of the province, where he said "peaceful protests were repressed and dispersed." He also claimed that Russian forces were shelling civilian infrastructures including schools, hospitals and kindergartens, "hitting water and gas pipelines and power grids."

On March 5, Russia reportedly cut off electricity in Luhansk, leaving over 80,000 people without power.

On March 22, Ukraine's State Emergency Service reported that the roof of the children's hospital in the city of Severodonetsk caught fire after being shelled by Russian forces. Seven children and 15 adults had to be evacuated.

On Wednesday, the U.S. embassy cited Ukraine's foreign ministry saying Russian forces had forcibly deported 2,389 children from Donetsk and Luhansk and brought them to Russia. Kyiv has described this as "kidnapping."