- By Sarah Rainsford, Eastern Europe correspondent in Kiev and Oliver Slow in London
- BBC News
January 21, 2024, 08:30 GMT
Updated 1 hour ago
Watch: Explosion at the Russian gas terminal
BBC News reported that an explosion at a major gas export terminal near the city of St. Petersburg in Russia was carried out by Ukrainian drones.
The explosion caused a large fire at the Ust-Luga terminal, but there were no injuries, Russian officials said.
An official source in Kyiv said the SBU security service's “special operation” planned the attack using drones that were “targeted.”
Both Russia and Ukraine have used drones in the current conflict.
Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine nearly two years ago but has made little progress in recent months.
Regarding the explosion near St. Petersburg, regional governor Alexander Drozdenko said there was a “high alert” following the incident at gas producer Novatek's terminal in Ust-Luga on the Gulf of Finland. He shared a video of what appeared to be a large fire.
Novatek later announced that work on the terminal had stopped and said the fire was the result of “external influences” – without giving further details.
The Ukrainians say the fuel processed at the facility was used to supply Russian troops in their war against Ukraine and that this attack “significantly complicates” logistics for the military.
They also describe the attack as an economic blow to Russia, which exports fuel from the terminal.
The Russian website Fontanka.ru published a video showing tankers moored near the fire. According to the report, at around 01:00 local time (22:00 GMT), two drones were spotted approaching the city of St. Petersburg but swerved sharply on the outskirts before heading towards the coast and port of Ust-Luga .
An eyewitness reported that the ground beneath his feet shook from the explosions.
The Russian Telegram channel Mash quotes a source as saying that two explosions were heard before the fire. According to the broadcaster, around 150 employees were evacuated from the terminal.
Another video posted on Russian social media appears to show giant orange fireballs. A man's voice can be heard referring to the hum of a drone before the explosion.
Fontanka.ru, usually a reliable source, says flights to and from St. Petersburg were suspended before the explosions as a plan called “Carpet” was put into effect.
The Russian Defense Ministry also said it shot down three Ukrainian drones in the Smolensk region near the border with Ukraine on Saturday evening.
Previously it was said that drones had been shot down over Tula and Oryol, both in western Russia. There were no reports of casualties.
Also on Sunday, shelling at a busy market in the Russian-controlled city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine killed at least 25 people and wounded 20, Russian-deployed officials said. Kiev has not yet commented on this attack.
This came a day after an attack on a major oil loading terminal in St. Petersburg.
On Thursday, Russia claimed to have captured a village near the destroyed city of Bakhmut in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region. Kyiv has not confirmed the claim.
Ukraine has repeatedly warned that its army faces a severe ammunition shortage but has set a goal of domestically producing one million drones this year.
Russia began invading its neighbor almost two years ago.