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Smart Take | Ukraine’s Attacks on Russian Primary Assets and Infrastructure are Succeeding

April 5, 20242:17

Ukrainian drones struck in the Tatarstan region of Russia this week, hitting an oil refinery and munitions factory. It is the latest in a string of successful drone strikes on Russian oil refineries, which has become one of the most successful Ukrainian war campaigns. Will Pomeranz, Director of the Kennan Institute, provides insight into the challenges Russia now faces with a severely depleted oil and gas infrastructure and how Ukrainian attacks have also crippled Russia’s Black Sea fleet.

Video Transcript

  • Ukraine has had tremendous success in attacking oil depots, refineries and Russian infrastructure. And so this has caused lots of problems for Russia, whether it's in terms of exports of oil and gas. and also it has had tremendous negative impact on Russia's ability to defend the homeland. And in the aftermath of this Crocus bombing, the increased attacks from Ukraine really exposes the vulnerabilities of the Russian Federation.

    The problems are, one, a decrease in the number of exports of oil and gas. But two, I think it has a psychological impact on Russia, because the Russians really haven't been engaged in the war in the homeland. And the fact that Ukraine, for a very small price of a drone, can attack significant infrastructure in Russia, again exposed Russia's vulnerability and attacks its main asset in terms of oil and gas.

    Russia has stopped exports of gasoline, because they need it for domestic purposes. So, again, in a country that has relied on being an energy superpower, the fact that Russia can no longer export oil, gas or has to be concerned about domestic prices, that is a new ballgame for the Russian Federation.

    At very limited costs, Ukraine has attacked the Black Sea Fleet, basically destroying 30% of the ships and the Black Sea Fleet. And the whole notion that the Black Sea Fleet is vulnerable belies all of what Russia has done for the last 30 years. 


William E. Pomeranz

William E. Pomeranz

Director, Kennan Institute

William Pomeranz, the Director of the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute, is an expert guide to the complexities of political and economic developments in Russia, particularly through the lens of law. He leverages extensive, hands-on experience in international and Russian jurisprudence to address a wide range of legal issues, from the development of Russia’s Constitution to human rights law to foreign investment and sanctions. He is also the author of Law and the Russian State: Russia's Legal Evolution from Peter the Great to Vladimir Putin (Bloomsbury, 2018).

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Kennan Institute

The Kennan Institute is the premier US center for advanced research on Eurasia and the oldest and largest regional program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The Kennan Institute is committed to improving American understanding of Russia, Ukraine, Central Asia, the South Caucasus, and the surrounding region though research and exchange.  Read more