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Russian oil refinery hit as Kharkiv region is under shelling

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Drone strikes forced a small independent refinery in southern Russia to halt operations on Sunday while Moscow’s troops kept up “intense” fighting in northeast Ukraine after recent advances, as well as along the eastern front.

Kremlin forces are currently pressing the most near Vovchansk, Starytsya, Lyptsi in the Kharkiv border region, as well as on Siversk, Pokrovsk and Kramatorsk axes in the east, Ukraine’s general staff said.

However, Ukraine’s troops managed to bolster their positions in the Kharkiv region over the past few days, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Telegram later on Sunday following talks with commander-in-chief Oleksandr Syrskyi, who’s currently at the front line.

Separately, Kyiv forces are “efficiently liquidating” Russia’s soldiers near the strategically important town of Chasiv Yar in Donetsk region, where Moscow’s troops have been pressing, Zelenskyy said.

Russia started what’s been described as a limited offensive operation north of Kharkiv on May 10 and is intensively shelling the region, according to Ukraine’s authorities.

At least six civilians were killed and 27 injured after missiles hit a resort in Kharkiv region on Sunday, they said. The strike prompted Zelenskyy to once again urge his foreign allies to provide more air-defense weapons to Ukraine.

Earlier, Russia’s defense ministry said it shot down a total of 103 Ukrainian drones, a tactical ballistic missile, 12 U.S.-made ATACMS missiles and various other projectiles in the past 24 hours.

Six drones struck the Slavyansk facility overnight with no casualties reported, the local administration said in a statement on its website.

Unmanned aerial vehicles from Ukraine targeted the refinery, according to a person with knowledge of the operation who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.

 

The refinery halted its operations to conduct checks, and it isn’t yet clear when it can resume running, RBC reported, citing the head of security at Slavyansk-Eko, the refinery’s operator.

The facility, which processes 4 million tons of crude per year, or about 80,000 barrels a day, was previously a target of drone attacks in March and April.

The U.S. has criticized Ukraine’s strikes on Russian refineries as creating a risk to crude oil prices and urged Kyiv to focus on military targets instead.

“Those attacks could have a knock-on effect in terms of the global energy situation,” U.S. Defense Secretarly Lloyd Austin said last week at a Senate committee hearing. “Ukraine is better served in going after tactical and operational targets that can directly influence the current fight.”

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(With assistance from Volodymyr Verbianyi.)

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