The Kremlin, on Friday, 1 April, accused Ukrainian helicopters of attacking an oil facility inside Russia and threatened to walk out of peace talks. Meanwhile, Ukraine denied carrying out any attack and pointed out that Russian negligence may be to blame.
Russia Regional Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said two of Ukraine's military helicopters flew 25 miles undetected past the Russian border at low altitude to Belgorod where they fired S-8 rockets at a Roseneft depot, causing a huge fireball to break out which firefighters are still tackling, IANS reported.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, "Of course, this is not something that can be perceived as creating comfortable conditions for the continuation of negotiations."
There have been fears that Russia would stage a false flag attack on itself to justify an escalation of the war or to back out of peace talks.
Ukraine Rejects Kremlin Claim
The secretary of Ukraine’s national security council, Oleksiy Danilov, denied responsibility for the attack. “For some reason, they say that we did it, but in fact this does not correspond with reality.”
Earlier on Friday, Ukrainian presidential aide Oleksiy Arestovych said, “We are holding defensive military operations on our own territory … Everything that happens on Russian territory is the responsibility of the Russian leadership. All questions to them.”
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, too, refused to say whether he had ordered an airstrike on Russian soil.
"I'm sorry, I do not discuss any of my orders as Commander In Chief," he told Fox News.
More About the Air Strike
Gladkov, who was appointed by Vladimir Putin in 2020, said the air strike, which would be the first on Russian soil since WW-II, injured two workers and parts of the city have been evacuated, The Daily Mail reported.
Video shared on social media appeared to show the attack happening at 5:43 am local time, followed by helicopters flying away from the blaze, although analysts have noted Russia uses the same type of helicopters as Ukraine.
The Ukraine government is yet to confirm the incident, but if true, it would be the second time Ukraine has ventured past the border since the invasion following the alleged long-range missile attack on Millerovo airbase last month, in the latest humiliation for Putin in his flailing campaign.
Last week, an exiled Russian politician claimed that Kremlin is plotting a wave of attacks on its own cities in a false flag operation led by the FSB that it will blame on Ukraine to justify a general mobilisation of troops.
(With inputs from IANS, AFP and The Guardian.)