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16 Apr, 2024 13:35

US told Ukraine to halt attacks on Russian oil refineries – WaPo

Kiev’s refusal to acquiesce has seen tensions rise between Ukraine and its top backer, the paper claims, citing anonymous US officials
US told Ukraine to halt attacks on Russian oil refineries – WaPo

The US has on multiple occasions asked Ukraine to stop targeting Russian oil refineries with its drones, the Washington Post claims, citing anonymous American officials. Kiev has reportedly ignored those requests, thus straining relations with its top foreign provider of military assistance, the newspaper reports.

Since January, Ukraine has launched a series of long-range attacks on Russian energy facilities, including oil depots and refineries, using kamikaze drones. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has argued that the strikes have been meant to impress Kiev’s Western backers amid a lack of progress on the front line.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that US Vice President Kamala Harris had met privately with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference in February, telling him to refrain from targeting Russian oil refineries. President Joe Biden’s administration reportedly believes that such attacks would raise global energy prices and provoke massive Russian retaliation.

According to the media outlet, the Ukrainian head of state “brushed off the recommendation.” Despite the US becoming more and more insistent over the following weeks, Kiev doubled down on its strategy.

As a rift widens between Washington and Kiev over the latter’s tactics, Ukrainian officials are becoming exasperated at the US’ inability to provide its partner with additional weaponry. This is due to the fact that Republicans in Congress have, for months, been blocking President Joe Biden’s foreign aid package, that envisages, among other things, $60 billion for Ukraine.

The newspaper, citing US Senator Tom Cotton, suggested that Biden’s main concern is keeping gasoline prices from rising domestically ahead of the November US presidential election.

Appearing on Ukrainian TV on Sunday, the country’s Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba made it clear that Kiev would consider Washington’s appeals if the US boosted its defense aid for Ukraine.

Last Wednesday, Celeste Wallander, the US Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, told lawmakers that the “strikes that we have seen against Russian energy sources have not significantly altered Russia’s ability to prosecute the war.” She added that the “Russians have been able to rapidly repair the facilities that were struck.”

A day prior, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told a Senate panel that “those attacks could have a knock-on effect in terms of the global energy situation.”

Last Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Ukraine’s recent tactics have forced Russia to respond by targeting Kiev’s energy and oil facilities. He explained that these strikes have helped degrade the Ukrainian defense industry’s capabilities.

Moscow has described the Ukraine conflict as a US-led proxy war against Russia, with Washington willing to fight “to the last Ukrainian.”