Ukraine special forces are thought to be behind hundreds of mysterious fires reported in Russia during the war. Ukraine has either used covert troops to carry out fires behind enemy lines or helped “disaffected” partisan groups do it, some military experts believe. Russia has seen hundreds of facilities burned down, including warehouses, gas pipelines and oil refineries across the country.
There were 394 fires at important public or military facilities across Russia between February and December 2022, according to the open source intelligence group Molfar.
Philip Ingram MBE, an ex-Colonel of the British army told Express.co.uk: “100% the Ukrainians have done it.
“They’ve brought on Special Operations Executive Manuals and they’re utilizing special forces to carry out these sorts of attacks [fires] or to help disaffected groups and individuals in areas understand how they can do these sorts of things to disrupt normal life across Russia.”
The fires counted by Molfar include those at factories, industrial facilities, malls, military factories, logistics centers, warehouses, oil refineries, oil storage facilities, and gas pipelines. Many of them have been deep within the country, including in Moscow.
In January, St Petersburg was struck by two warehouse fires in just over a week. And before this, a 12,000 square warehouse in the city was set ablaze in October.
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The Ukraine government has not officially claimed responsibility for any of the incidents, although several partisan groups have boasted about attacks.
Putin has also remained quiet about Ukraine’s possible involvement in fires deep within Russia.
However, the country has publicly blamed Ukraine for “terrorism” in its Belgorod region on the Russo-Ukraine border.
The local authorities yesterday (January 20) declared a “yellow” threat level from Ukrainian “terrorism”.
They recently blamed the Armed Forces of Ukraine for shelling attacks on civilian populations.
The local authorities confirmed on their telegram channel: “A shell knocked out the glazing in one private household. The power line was also damaged.”
They have also accused Ukraine of being behind a helicopter at an oil refinery in April.
At the time, Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security Council said: “For some reason they say that we did it, but in fact this does not correspond with reality.”
Other attacks on the Belgorod region include an incident where IEDs were dropped on villages around the region, according to the telegram channel Baza.
Some partisan groups such as the Anarcho-Communist Combat Organization have claimed responsibility for some attacks, including fires, across the country – such as the arson of military registration and enlistment officers.
The group Freedom of Russia and Atesh are also likely to be behind some arson attacks on Russian shopping malls and warehouses, claims the former commander of a partisan group in Donbas, Volodymyr Zhemchugov.
Some believe Ukraine is involved in sponsoring various anti-Putin partisan groups in Russia, although Zelensky’s government’s involvement in this is unconfirmed.
Ukrainian public donations are known to have funded a secret project known as the “black box” which has claimed to attack facilities as far as 600km into enemy territory.
Last month, it was reported that the bases of two heavy bombers were damaged and three killed after a fuel tank explosion at the Dyagilyaevo airfield, southeast of Moscow.
Mykola Bielieskov, a senior analyst at The Come Back Alive Foundation who sponsors “black box”, told the Metro: “I suppose you can see from recent developments that somehow there is, inadvertently, a string of accidents in Russia.
“These are not along the border with Ukraine but in Russia itself and involve the bases of strategic bombers like Tu-95, Tu-160 and Tu-22M3.
“You can see from the coincidences that something is going on.”
Mr Bielieskov claimed the organization had received six billion Ukrainian hryvnias (£132 million).