Ukraine conducts largest drone attack on Russia as Putin visits China

Ukraine launched its largest-ever drone attack on Russia while Putin visited China, killing two people and causing an oil refinery fire in the Black Sea, according to officials. “Fifty-one drones were destroyed and intercepted over Crimea, 44 over the Krasnodar region, six over the Belgorod region and one over Kursk region,” Russia’s military said in a statement according to media reports. The wave of drones attacked several targets around the Belgorod region and along the coast of the Black Sea. Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said a mother and child were killed while traveling in a car, and authorities managed to extinguish the fire at the Tuapse refinery.”The child was in critical condition. Doctors did everything possible to save him,” Gladkov said. Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvozhaev announced that he “made a decision to cancel classes in all schools, institutions of secondary vocational education and kindergartens” and warned that periodic blackouts would continue as the region struggled with the damage caused by Ukraine’s attack. The Tuapse refinery had undergone several months of repair after a previous fire in January, which Ukrainian sources claimed at the time had resulted from another drone attack, according to media reports. The refinery dumps out around 12 million metric tons of fuel, including fuel oil, vacuum gasoil and high-sulphur diesel, supplying Turkey, China, Malaysia and Singapore. Ukraine’s attack occurred as Russia ramps up its operations with renewed offensives, though, Putin has claimed he does not intend to take the city; instead, the attack was an alleged attempt to stop Ukrainian attacks. Putin visited China this week to court support and emphasize personal ties between the two countries. He thanked Chinese President Xi Jinping for “substantive” discussions before taking aim at the U.S. and Ukraine. Putin told reporters in China on Friday that “what is happening on the Kharkiv front is their own fault,” blaming Ukraine for attacks on Russian villages that forced him to retaliate. “Civilians are dying there,” Putin said. “It’s obvious. They are shooting directly at the city center, at residential areas. And I said publicly that if this continues, we will be forced to create a security zone, a buffer zone. That is what we are doing.” Putin insisted that the Moscow-Beijing partnership is a vital part of shaping the “emerging multipolar world” and dismissed concerns that it is a union “directed against anyone.” “It is aimed at one thing: creating better conditions for the development of our countries and improving the well-being of the people of China and the Russian Federation,” Putin said. Last week, Ukraine had reportedly advanced into Kharkiv. White House spokesperson John Kirby at the time told reporters that they should expect “Russia will likely increase the intensity of fires” and increase troop deployments into the region in the coming weeks. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy admitted that Moscow’s forces this week advanced six miles into the Kharkiv region, forcing Kyiv to expand its operations to prevent further penetration towards the country’s second-biggest city.