Russia accuses Ukraine of bombing Bryansk with Bayraktar drone

Ukrainian Armed Forces

A Turkish-made Bayraktar drone was used to bomb two oil depots near Bryansk, Russian media claims. Officials say two of these drones were subsequently shot down. 

Allegedly, fragments of MAM-L guided bombs were found at the sites, along with the wreckage of at least one Bayraktar drone. 

Large fires broke out at two separate oil depots – on military and one civilian – in Bryansk, Russia, during the night of April 25, 2022. Bryansk is located approximately 100 kilometers (60 miles) northeast from the Ukrainian border. 

Initially Russian authorities did not specify the causes of the fires, stating only that they were preceded by large explosions. Some Ukrainian and Russian publications also suggested that a railway line has been heavily damaged in the region, however, earlier reports indicate that the damage occurred on April 21 due to an apparent landslide. 

During the morning of April 25, local media reported that two Ukrainian Bayraktar TB2 drones had been shot down in Rylsk district, approximately 170 kilometers (105 miles) south of Bryansk, publishing images of what appear to be fragments of one aircraft taken by local residents. 

According to the governor of Kursk Oblast Roman Stratovoit, the drones were going to bomb civilian targets in Borovskoe village, but they were shot down by Russian air defenses.  

However, according to The Times, influential Russian social media channels began to claim that these were the same drones that struck the Bryansk depots. Telegram channels such as Baza, which routinely posts insider information, published the claim referring to sources close to the matter. 

On the morning of April 26, after the fires had been extinguished, local media outlet MK Bryansk reported that fragments of MAM-L smart munition with an anti-tank warhead were found at one of the two depots, the civilian Transneft-Druzhba. MAM-L, manufactured by Roketsan, is a 22-kilogram (28-pound) laser-guided bomb with a range of 15 kilometers. It is the primary armament of the Bayraktar TB2. 

Ukrainian military has not taken responsibility for the attack. Sergey Bratchuk, the spokesperson of Ukraine’s Odesa Military Administration, denied allegations of Ukraine’s involvement and said that Russian authorities have previously been observed transporting fragments of Bayraktar drones in order to plant them in Russia and accuse Ukraine of attacking Russian cities.  

If Ukrainian involvement in the attack is confirmed, this would be the third time Ukrainian aircraft have struck targets within Russia since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion. On April 1, 2022, Russia accused Ukraine of using military helicopters to attack an oil depot in Belgorod, and on April 14 several civilian homes in the town of Klimovo. In both cases Ukrainian officials denied the claims.  

On February 24, the first day of the invasion, Russian Defense Ministry claimed that Ukrainian aviation had been disabled with high-precision weapons. In the subsequent weeks, Russian authorities claimed on multiple occasions that the Ukrainian Air Force “ceased to exist”.  

According to The Insider, by March 18, 2022, Russia claimed to have shot down more than 30 Ukrainian Bayraktar drones out of 20 possessed by the Ukrainian armed forces.

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