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Drone Crashes Into St. Petersburg Oil Refinery

Smoke billowing from the Nevsky Mazut oil refinery in St. Petersburg. Social media

An unmanned drone crashed near the center of St. Petersburg on Wednesday, causing an explosion at an oil refinery, local media reported, marking the second such incident in the city over the past month. 

According to the news outlet Fontanka, which cites anonymous sources, a Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system shot at the drone at around 4:20 a.m. local time.

However, the aircraft reportedly flew for another half an hour until finally crashing on the grounds of the Nevsky Mazut refinery, causing an explosion and a blaze that has since been put out by firefighters. 

St. Petersburg Governor Alexander Beglov referred to the explosion as a “loud clap” and an “incident” in which he said no one was hurt.

“There was no substantial damage to property,” Beglov wrote on the messaging app Telegram. 

He did not mention the drone specifically.

The RBC-Ukraine news outlet, citing an anonymous Ukrainian military intelligence source, reported that Ukraine’s military intelligence agency GUR was behind the drone strike.

“It's significant that they used the S-400 to hit our drones,” the source was quoted as saying, referring to the type of anti-aircraft system reportedly used to down the drone.  

“It’s very interesting how Russian air defense works since after the drone was allegedly shot down, it still fell on the grounds of our target,” they added.

Russia’s Defense Ministry has not commented on the incident.

Earlier this month, a series of drone strikes claimed by Ukraine sparked fires at oil and gas facilities in northwestern Russia’s Leningrad region and St. Petersburg.

Authorities reportedly limited internet last week to improve anti-drone technology in northwestern Russia.

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