A massive fire raged overnight into the morning and daytime hours at a Russian oil storage facility and logistics hub on Monday in the city of Bryansk, which lies a mere 100 kilometers from the Ukrainian border.
Widely circulating social media footage is fueling speculation that the fire could have been the result of either a Ukrainian missile strike, or perhaps covert sabotage - in addition to the possibility of yet another strange 'accident' - the third such mystery blaze in as many days. As we detailed earlier, many commentators noted the timing, which corresponded with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin meeting face-to-face with President Zelensky in Kiev.
#BREAKING: Large explosions reported at a large Russian military base in Bryansk, Russia amidst reported strikes by Ukrainian forces.— Moshe Schwartz (@YWNReporter) April 25, 2022
Reported strikes follow visit by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. pic.twitter.com/AhDKb9WAIZ
Stretching back a bit further into last week, regional media notes of the string of fires at sensitive facilities, "The Bryansk fire is the fourth fire in a short time since fires at Russia's industrial and development infrastructure sites in Tver, Korolyov and Kineshma last week."
Friday had seen a facility belonging to Russia's secretive Central Research and Development Institute of Aerospace Defense Troops in Tver go up in flames - with at least seven people reported killed - and then hours later the Dmitrievsky Chemical Plant was scene of a huge blaze from unknown causes.
As for Monday's incident, Russian emergency response authorities have since said the cause of the blaze is under investigation and that there were no casualties from the incident.
Latest round of "mysterious" fires in Russia: After multiple reported explosions, an oil depot & military base are now on fire in Bryansk, Russia (region bordering #Ukraine). The oil depot is connected to the world's longest oil pipeline (Druzhba) feeding Russian oil to Europe. pic.twitter.com/ojCuhpc6j7— Ukraine Reporter (@StateOfUkraine) April 25, 2022
Citing Russia's Ministry of Emergency Situations, Reuters details that "the fire had broken out at a facility owned by oil pipeline company Transneft at 0200 Moscow time (2300 GMT), and that there had been no need to evacuate any parts of Bryansk, a city of 400,000 people," according to the ministry.
"The Russian Energy Ministry said there was no threat to diesel and gasoline supplies in the Bryansk region after the incident and there were enough fuel stockpiles," the report addded.
Commenting on the now widely circulating but unverified footage of the Bryansk blaze, The New York Post writes, "Footage on social media showed a wall of flames raging around a giant fuel reservoir after what sounded like two explosions about 100 miles northeast of Ukraine."
And further, "Another video showed what looked like another fire burning at a second location in Bryansk." Two fires hitting the same facility but in different locations of the complex indeed suggests some kind of sabotage or direct attack.
Meanwhile, some pro-Ukraine pundits have been hailing the string of mystery explosions and fires as a "win" for the Ukrainian side as the war now focused in Donbas grinds on...
I still can’t get it how this thing in Bryansk was possible.— Illia Ponomarenko 🇺🇦 (@IAPonomarenko) April 25, 2022
It’s either Ukraine has a godlike UAV operator team, or Russians did this themselves.
Or the West gave us something no one is talking about 😳 pic.twitter.com/js2kWvl9T3
And according to the description in Yahoo News: "The fire, visible from miles away according to unverified social media footage, also hit diesel storage tanks in Bryansk, western Russia, the news agency Interfax reported an unnamed source as saying."
Russia said it would investigate the cause of a large fire that erupted in the early hours of the morning at an oil storage facility in the city of Bryansk, 96 miles northeast of the border with Ukraine https://t.co/N3oWjmmnlG pic.twitter.com/B01D4t9yeZ— Reuters (@Reuters) April 25, 2022
"The BBC's Steve Rosenberg said via Twitter that local television in Bryansk had also reported diesel tanks on fire, adding that they were a military facility," the report said.
Lately there have been significant rumors circulating among US national security pundits that the Biden administration has decided to dramatically ramp up active covert operations in support of the Ukrainian military. Are we now beginning to see sabotage efforts underway inside Russia itself? If so it would certainly mark a huge and dangerous new escalation with Moscow.