How Ukraine's UAV delivered a deadly blow to Russia's oil and gas lifeline 4How Ukraine's UAV delivered a deadly blow to Russia's oil and gas lifeline 4

In mid-March, a Ukrainian drone crashed into Rosneft’s Ryazan oil refinery, located 500 km from the border with Ukraine.

These increasingly distant raids show that Kiev has found a way to overcome Moscow’s air defense network and complex electronic warfare system, allowing its explosive-carrying UAVs to deliver lethal blows to Russia.

A source close to Ukraine’s UAV program said that the vehicles participating in the raid have a longer range, higher capacity, and even use artificial intelligence (AI) technology to guide, making them useless.

`Each UAV has a computer containing satellite and terrain data, and we and our allies determine the flight direction before attacking,` the source explained.

Ukraine used AI UAVs to strike a deadly blow against the Russian oil and gas industry

Ukrainian long-range UAVs raided Russia’s Ryazan oil refinery on March 13.

UAVs are equipped with a series of sensors and use `machine sense`, a form of AI, explained expert Noah Sylvia of the UK’s Royal Institute for Defense and Security Studies (RUSI).

`When deployed, the UAV will be able to determine where it is,` said Sylvia.

Chris Lincoln-Jones, an expert in AI and UAV warfare, said that the vehicle’s self-pathfinding technology is still at a low level.

Ukraine has relied heavily on UAVs and drones since the war with Russia broke out in February 2022, and has focused its efforts on developing technology to be able to domestically manufacture this type of vehicle.

Ukraine initially used UAVs and drones for reconnaissance or modified them to drop small-caliber bullets, then built a complete industry to somewhat have an advantage over Russia with larger and better resources.

Some experts say that instead of attacking fuel depots, Ukraine is targeting distillation towers, which process crude oil and turn it into fuel or other derivatives.

`We see that some of these targets are complexes that need a lot of Western technology and Russia is having difficulty buying them,` said Sylvia.

How Ukraine's UAV delivered a deadly blow to Russia's oil and gas lifeline

UAVs raided a Russian factory more than 1,000 km from Ukraine

UAVs raided a house in the Russian Republic of Tatarstan on April 2.

This tactic helps Ukraine cause more damage to Russia instead of random attacks.

`The vast majority of sanctions imposed by the West on Russia so far have ignored the energy sector,` said Helima Croft, managing director and head of global commodity strategy at the investment bank.

Ukraine claims Russia has lost 12% of its total oil refining capacity.

`The past weeks have shown that Russia’s wartime economy has vulnerabilities that we can attack with our weapons,` Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declared.

A series of raids targeting Russian oil refineries in Ukraine caused global oil prices to increase, with Brent crude oil prices increasing nearly 13% this year.

Although not mentioning energy prices, US officials said they were actively persuading Ukraine not to attack Russian oil refineries.

Croft said US and Western sanctions imposed on Russia since the outbreak of hostilities were designed to maintain the country’s energy supply on the market.

How Ukraine's UAV delivered a deadly blow to Russia's oil and gas lifeline

UAV UJ-22 of Ukraine.

`That’s the deal between the US and Ukraine: We will pump you with money and weapons, but leave Russia’s export and energy facilities alone, because we don’t want a major energy crisis.`

However, the military aid package worth more than $60 billion stuck in the US Congress has caused the flow of weapons to Ukraine to almost stagnate for many months.

Experts say the bigger concern is that Ukraine is not stopping at oil refineries.

`If a major export facility is attacked, the impact on the market will be significant,` Croft warned.

Ukrainian officials acknowledged US concerns, but vowed to continue the raids.

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