Rocket strike damages Russian pipeline supplying oil to Europe

A Ukrainian Tochka-U missile system on parade. A similar weapons was reportedly responsible for the damage done to the Russian oil pipeline in Novozybkov, Bryansk Region. Photo: Wikimedia Commons contributor Michael, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0

A rocket reportedly fired by the Ukrainian forces is said to have damaged a key piece of Russian oil pumping infrastructure in Novozybkov in the Bryansk Region, some 50 kilometres from the Ukrainian-Belarusian-Russian border tripoint.

Experts who arrived at the scene said the oil station was slightly damaged and left without electricity. Personnel have been evacuated and no casualties reported.

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The damage appears to have been caused by missiles fired from a Tochka-U system used by the Ukrainian armed forces, although reports indicate Russians also use the Soviet-era weapon.

The Druzhba (Friendship) pipeline is responsible for supplying Russian oil to the rest of Europe. It splits into northern and southern branches in Belarus. The northern branch continues through the territories of Belarus and Poland into Germany, while the southern branch crosses through Ukraine and is responsible for supplying Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Austria, all being landlocked countries and the three former heavily reliant on Russian oil.

EU countries are attempting to wean off of Russian oil and have agreed to set a price cap of USD 60 per barrel of Russian oil, and have also introduced an import ban on Russian seaborne crude oil and petroleum products. EU’s landlocked countries, however, have no other means of supplying themselves with oil other than by continuing to receive it from the pipeline and are thus exempted from enforcing the sanctions.

Back in November, the pipeline also suffered damage resulting in suspended flows, but that time around it was Russian missile and drone strikes against Ukraine that caused the damage.

Earlier, in October, a leak was discovered in the Polish section of the pipeline, but investigation revealed that there was nothing to indicate it had been caused by sabotage.

However, this was not a given, as just two weeks prior the Nord Stream pipeline running under the Baltic Sea and supplying Russian gas to Germany had been damaged due to a series of explosions that have been found to be a result of deliberate action, widely believed in the West to have been the doing of the Kremlin.

Meanwhile, Russia has been deliberately targeting key power infrastructure in Ukraine, causing blackouts lasting as long as 24 hours in Kyiv and elsewhere in the country, just short of crippling the country’s supply of electricity and other services that rely on it.