Explosion at the oil depot in Sevastopol. Molfar's experts analyze the attack

Military and military support facilities on the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine are legitimate targets for the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The oil depot in the investigation was supplying fuel to the entire Black Sea Fleet of the terrorist Russian Federation’s armed forces. Now it will not.

The explosion at the oil depot happened on April 29. Exactly 6 months after the previous attack on Crimea by naval drones, also on a Saturday, also at four in the morning. No civilians or military personnel of the Russian Armed Forces were injured. Only the fuel tanks were damaged.

Below, we propose to consider the chronology of events and expert versions of the operation. According to Molfar, it is likely that not only air attack drones were involved in the explosion in Sevastopol. We will also consider the version that NATO forces were involved in the operation.

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The explosion in Sevastopol on April 29: a chronology of events

⏳ 01:00 – 04:23

According to the post by the pro-Russian blogger Colonelcassad, the first group of Mugin 5 UAVs (Chinese drones) took off at 01:00-01:30. The takeoff was from the Odesa region, in the direction of Simferopol. Later, at 02:30 – 03:00, the second group of UAVs was recorded taking off, and at 03:50 – the third group of UAVs took off. Around 04:00, UAVs were observed flying in the areas of Daleke, Kormove and Hvardiyske, and at 04:00, one UAV was downed near Hvardiyske.

⏳ 04:23 – 04:30

UAVs hit an oil depot (Yugtorsan) between Kozatska and Kamyshova bays. According to the media, there were 2 explosions. According to the publication and official statements, there were no casualties as a result of the damage to the oil depot.

⏳ 04:30 – 05:15

👆 According to the media (1, 2, 3), additional pictures of the fire were taken around 5 a.m.

👆 According to the media, the photos of the fire were taken at night.

👆 According to the media, a picture was taken when the firefighting began. 

⏳ 05:15 – 09:00

According to the Russian media, Sevastopol "governor" Mikhail Rozvozhayev arrived at the scene of the fire. 

⏳ 09:00 – 10:30

According to Russian media, Senator from Crimea Olga Kovitidi called on the Russian authorities to take tough decisions and actions in connection with the attack on the oil depot in Sevastopol. Kovitidi proposed to destroy all Odesa oil storage facilities and to decide to neutralize Odesa as a military base of Ukraine.

⏳ 10:30 – 11:00

👆 Images of fire brigades published by pro-Russian sources.

According to the Russian propagandist, at least ten UAVs were launched in total. "One was shot down by a firing squad over Sevastopol Bay, and four more were suppressed by electronic warfare in the Black Sea." In addition, about three or four UAVs were shot down by electronic warfare on the approach to Cape Tarkhankut, and another one was shot down by a Pantsyr air defense system over Hvardiyske, the UAV was flying from the direction of Rozdolne."

⏳ 11:00 – 12:00

According to the publication, the video shows a Mugin 5 Pro UAV shot down near Zernove in Crimea. 

According to the statements of the Crimea’s occupation authorities, the fire was localized by 12:00. 

⏳ 12:00 – 15:00

According to the statements of the Crimea’s occupation authorities, the fire was extinguished by 15:00 (1, 2). 

⏳ Additional photos of the fire, exact time unknown

According to a number of publications (1, 2, 3), the shots of the fire. 

👆 According to the publication, additional images of the fire from different angles.

Theories: what weapons were used to hit the Sevastopol oil depot, and were NATO forces involved?

👉 NATO strikes from the territory of Romania

During the investigation, Molfar found a Twitter thread in which a user claims that NATO, not Ukrainian troops, was behind the attack on the Sevastopol oil storage facility on April 29, and that the attack was launched from Romania, not Odesa. It is likely a fake PSYOP that is parasitizing the popular media topic of the oil depot attack.

A message from a Twitter thread in which the user CarloCarpaciao accuses NATO of attacking Sevastopol from Romanian territory

Also, according to the post by the pro-Russian military blogger ColonelCassad, who quoted another pro-Russian blogger Rybar, a French intelligence plane and a number of NATO intelligence aircraft were operating in Romania before the UAV attack.

👉 The version of the Russian Federation

According to the version (1, 2) of pro-Russian bloggers and the official position of the Crimea’s occupation authorities, the oil depot was hit by a Chinese-made Mugin 5 Pro UAV. Images of the allegedly downed UAV in the Zernove area of Crimea were also published.

It is also known that this UAV is used by the Russian Armed Forces in the war against Ukraine, which may indicate a staged attack by Russia. At the same time, the UAV is commercially available.

According to the Russian version, the fire area was 1000 square meters, 4 fuel tanks caught fire, and it was previously stated that 2 UAVs had reached the target.

👉 Alternative versions

According to an interview with Andriy Yusov, a representative of the Defense Intelligence of Ukraine, the explosion in Sevastopol on April 29 destroyed more than 10 oil tanks. Their total capacity is about 40 thousand tons.

The real results of the fire at the oil storage facility: at least 10 fuel tanks were damaged, most of which were completely burned out. A leaked photo from an emergency drone confirms the words of Ukrainian intelligence: all tanks can be considered damaged, but some of them can be restored.

According to an interview with Pavel Narozhny, the strike was similar to the one on the Crimean Bridge, and he also said that the option of naval UAVs cannot be excluded. Interestingly, in both cases, the strike on the targets in Crimea took place on Saturday at 4 a.m., six months apart.

On April 24, naval UAVs were already hitting Sevastopol, after which Roman Svitan, a retired colonel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and a military expert, suggested that a massive strike on the territory of the temporarily occupied Crimean Peninsula was likely to happen in the near future.

👉 Other versions and statements as of May 1

  1. Russian State Duma deputy, General Lev Gurulov, called for a calm attitude to the explosions at the oil depot: "What happened, and the drone flew to the oil depot in Crimea. Well, this is war, it happens. We need to find out why this happened and not look for the guilty," he said. 
  2. The OSINT community InformNapalm published a map with Kozacha Bay marked and noted that the oil depot is located close to the landing ships of the 810th Marine Brigade (military camp, training ground, driving range). It was this brigade that was supposed to cover the oil storage facility from the sky.
  3. Journalist Andriy Tsaplienko published a post on Telegram about traffic jams on the way out of Crimea.
  4. Oleksiy Honcharenko published a screenshot of Girkin-Strelkov's post, where the latter linked Russia's silence on the explosions in Crimea to the importance of continuing the "grain deal" for the Russian Federation.
  5. According to Channel 24 news, a government plane took off from Crimea on April 29 and landed in Vnukovo.
  6. "The Krym.Realii news described eyewitness accounts that there was an explosion at first, and a fire broke out 15-20 minutes later. They also published screenshots of comments from Crimean residents, where users are surprised that the air defense system at Cape Fiolent did not work on UAVs, and also suggest creating people's guards to control and prevent UAV attacks.
  7. On May 1, the Telegram channel "News: from the scene" published a post stating that the attack on the oil storage facility was part of the Armed Forces' preparations for a counteroffensive, and that 2 UAVs participated in the attack, one of which was shot down.
  8. The VK community "Overheard in Sevastopol" published a photo of the screen (1, 2) of the drone control center, which shows the real picture of the fire at the oil storage facility results and the number of damaged and burned tanks.
  9. The Crimean Wind Telegram channel wrote in a post about an eyewitness who saw a UAV flying from Cape Fiolent.
  10. Obozrevatel published a video with the testimony of a Crimean woman who says that she heard a loud explosion and that her friends saw something flying before the explosion, probably a UAV.
  11. Gazeta.ru wrote about the shooting and two explosions before the fire. The photo published in the news shows that there were 3 fire centers at the oil depot.
  12. The so-called "governor of Crimea" Aksyonov wrote on his Telegram channel about one downed UAV and another that was suppressed by electronic warfare.
  13. Taras Berezovets, in a conversation with Mark Feigin, talks about 6 UAVs that flew into the airspace of Crimea: 4 were shot down or landed with the help of electronic warfare, but 2 UAVs hit their targets.
  14. Blogger Oleksandr Talipov from Crimea published a post on Telegram, where he wrote under the photo of the downed UAV that the drone was shot down in the village of Zernove around 7 am, and also confirmed Rybar's information about a group of Ukrainian UAVs.

Conclusions of the successful attack on the oil storage facility in Sevastopol

The Armed Forces of Ukraine have successfully hit a military target on the territory of the temporarily occupied Crimean Peninsula.

According to the available photos, at least 10 fuel tanks were damaged, confirming the statements of Ukrainian intelligence and refuting the propaganda claims of pro-Kremlin media and authorities.

Regarding the involvement of NATO forces in organizing the attack. There is insufficient evidence to support this claim. NATO intelligence aircraft were, in fact, in international airspace over the Crimean Peninsula on the eve of the attack. However, their activity in this area is regular and does not prove participation in the planning, let alone the implementation, of the operation by the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

According to the available data, mass-produced Mugin 5 Pro UAVs, which have been modernized and turned into kamikaze drones, were involved in the attack on the oil storage facilities. The number of UAVs, according to various sources, ranges from 2 to 10+ units.

There is insufficient evidence in open sources about the use of surface UAVs and/or other means of destruction that could theoretically have been used in the attack on the Sevastopol oil storage facility.

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