A fuel depot caught fire near a major bridge in Crimea, Russia

(Reuters) – A Russian fuel depot caught fire early on Wednesday near a key bridge linking mainland Russia and Crimea, a Russian official said, days after Moscow blamed Ukraine for an attack that set an oil depot on fire in Sevastopol.

Flames and black smoke billowed above what appeared to be large tanks adorned with red “flammable” warnings in videos posted to Russian social media, though Reuters could not independently verify reports of the fires or the videos.

“The fire is rated the highest difficulty,” Veniamin Kondratyev, governor of the Krasnodar region across the Sea of ​​Azov from Ukraine, said on messaging app Telegram, adding that there were no casualties.

Kondratyev said that the fire broke out in the village of Volna. The small village is located near the Crimean Bridge over the Kerch Strait, a major artery for Russian forces, connecting the mainland to Crimea, which was annexed in 2014 from Ukraine.

The incident came days after a drone attack set a Russian fuel storage facility ablaze in the Crimean port of Sevastopol on Saturday, in what Moscow called a Ukrainian attack.

Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the Sevastopol attack, in line with its usual practice during the conflict, which began in February 2022.

But over the weekend, Kiev’s military said undermining Russian logistics formed part of preparations for a long-awaited counteroffensive, aided by new shipments of more powerful Western weaponry.

Explosions derailed a train on Monday in Russia’s Bryansk region bordering Ukraine, the second such accident in two days. Russian officials say pro-Ukrainian sabotage groups have launched attacks there since the start of hostilities.

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Russia has also stepped up its attacks on Ukraine ahead of an expected counterattack by the latter, with nearly nightly waves of drones and missiles targeting Kiev and other regions over the past week.

Early Wednesday, authorities in the Ukrainian capital said they had repulsed Moscow’s nighttime attack as air defense systems destroyed all launched drones.

(Reporting by Lydia Kelly from Melbourne); Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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