[guest post by Dana]
Consider this an open thread about Putin’s war on Ukraine. The fact that Russia, with its history of false flag operations, is making the accusation and experts looking at the footage can’t positively identify whether it was a Ukrainian or Russian aircraft suggests it should be taken with a grain of salt until said confirmation can be made:
Russia said two Ukrainian military helicopters crossed the border and attacked an oil-storage facility in the city of Belgorod, causing a large fire early Friday.
Tass quoted Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov as saying the aircraft flew in at low altitude and struck the facility owned by Rosneft, the state oil company. Four of eight fuel tanks that had caught fire were extinguished by early afternoon, Interfax reported. Two workers were reported injured and nearby residents were being evacuated. A local industrial park also reported damage, according to Tass.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said officials had reported the incident to President Vladimir Putin. Peskov declined to comment on how Russian defenses had failed to prevent the attack. He said it “isn’t what could be seen as creating conditions conducive to the continuation of talks.” Negotiators from Russia and Ukraine are scheduled to meet via video-conference Friday
A Ukraine defense ministry spokesman declined to confirm or deny the report:
“I would like to emphasize that Ukraine is performing a defensive operation against Russian aggression on the territory of Ukraine,” Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, spokesman for Ukraine’s defense ministry, said in a televised statement Friday.
“That doesn’t mean Ukraine has to be responsible for every miscalculation or event or catastrophe that occurred on the territory of the Russian Federation. This is not the first time we are witnessing such accusations. Therefore, I will neither confirm nor deny this information.”
While it’s being reported that this incident could hinder progress in trying to reach a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine, it really doesn’t sound like Zelensky is buying into what Russia is attempting to sell:
Russian negotiators announced Tuesday that Moscow’s forces would de-escalate their combat operations near Kyiv and Chernihiv to “build trust,” focusing their fight on eastern Ukraine. The announcement caused outrage among prominent hard-line state television presenters, pundits and on social media.
But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he did not trust Russia’s announcement of a de-escalation, telling Ukrainians in one of his regular addresses Thursday: “We don’t believe anyone, not a single beautiful phrase.” U.S. officials have also been skeptical of Moscow’s announcement, seeing it as a sign that Russia is probably taking time to regroup and reorganize its attack.
And then there is this:
Horrifying video of the total destruction of Mariupol orchestrated by Putin. What this video doesn’t show are the thousands of innocent civilians brutally massacred by Putin’s bombs. https://t.co/Vc9aJEeB7O
— Bill Browder (@Billbrowder) March 31, 2022