The Sevastopol drone attack

Справжнісінька бавовна. (real cotton) recent Russian euphemism for a great big kaboom

Shortly before dawn, an attack on the Russian oil refinery and fuel storage field at Sevastopol in Crimea resulted in an enormous fire that sent a column of thick, black smoke above the nearby city. Russian sources claim that the fire is the result of a Ukrainian drone attack. Ukrainian government sources have not confirmed that Ukraine is responsible, but have stated that the fuel at this facility was intended for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. They also had one more message to pass along: “The explosions in Sevastopol are God’s punishment for Uman!”

The attack—assuming it was an attack—appears to have struck a large collection of storage tanks at a Chornomornaftogaz facility carrying not just crude oil, but refined products like diesel fuel. By early Saturday morning, the fire appears to have completely consumed ten large tanks containing around 300,000 barrels. Even at the discount Russia is forced to give when selling oil on the international market, that’s over $19 million worth of product if this was all crude oil. Far more if much of it was refined products. The fire has since spread to at least seven more tanks in the same storage field, likely raising the total amount consumed to around half a million barrels. Another set of tanks is nearby, but the fire has not ignited this second cluster. Yet. 

According to Russian sources, the fire was triggered by a wave of Chinese-made Mugin-5 drones, which cost $9,500 each and are capable of flying over 800 km. Those sources say that Ukraine launched three groups of these drones from an area near Odesa, with some being brought down by electronic warfare and one being shot down by air defense systems near a village deep inside Russia. However, there is no way to confirm the accuracy of any of the Russian reports and this information is definitely suspect (especially since the location of the drone reported shot down looks to be beyond even the longest cruising range of the Mugin-5).

If this was a Ukrainian drone attack, it followed closely on the heels of a Russian strike on an apartment building in the southwest Ukrainian city of Uman which resulted in at least 26 deaths, including the deaths of four children. 

One thing is sure, fuel storage facilities burn … enthusiastically.

Comment: The videos look like catastrophic damage, but once the fire’s out I doubt the damage will be as bad as it looks in those videos. A few things strike me though. 

1) These are Chinese-made drones with obvious dual use application. Why is Russia’s friend without limits allowing Ukraine to buy them in bulk? The same goes for all those DFI drones in use by Ukraine.

2) There is a stark contrast between Ukrainian and Russian target selection. Hitting a Sevastopol fuel tank farm is of far more tactical/strategic value than hitting apartment buildings in Uman. I will give the Russian targeteers the benefit of the doubt in saying that they wanted to hit Ukrainian military reserve concentrations, but it doesn’t appear they hit any. Perhaps the missiles and drones shot down were heading for troop and equipment concentrations. In that case it would be a matter of ineptness rather than intentionally cruel criminality.

3) There are similar targets like this in the Sevastopol area. We’ll have to wait to see if this is just a one off strike or part of a complete campaign. To truly be effective, these targets must be hit repeatedly and rapidly. Also, if I was sending those Mugin-5 drones on kamikazi missions, I’d modify them so that the landing gear would fall off after takeoff. Should be an easy modification.


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30 Responses to The Sevastopol drone attack

  1. d74 says:

    “1) These are Chinese-made drones with obvious dual use application. Why is Russia’s friend without limits allowing Ukraine to buy them in bulk?”

    And more.
    As we know, Russian civilian associations provide their troops in Ukraine with radios, basic medical supplies and… quadcopters.
    However, the Russian army newspaper complains that the Chinese no longer take internet orders from Russian civilians. At first, the ban could be bypassed by a VPN. Not anymore.

    China knows by whom its bread is buttered. Losing US trade is unthinkable.
    Chinese diplomacy is playing on a tightrope.

  2. Fourth and Long says:

    3 Port towns with mushroom clouds, 4 syllables each. (2 minutes)

    Please describe your thoughts upon realizing that “Lo, Pot Saves” spells the name of a famous port city on the Black Sea when the letters are rearranged in reversed order. (1 page. 10 minute time limit).

    Does the phrase “Pol Pot Shaves Misha” remind you more of “Hiroshima mon Amour” or “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance?” (1 minute).

    Who sings the theme song in the movie The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance? 45 seconds
    The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance – Gene Pitney

    Multiple choice:
    Which entry best completes the sentence: “A town without _______”
    A) Pitney
    B) Pity

    Breaking News: Ding Liren is World Chess Champion. A first for a citizen of China.

    • Whitewall says:

      My word, F&L. You’ve gone back to the groove yard of forgotten favorites.

    • Billy Roche says:

      Gene Pitney, dead at 65 arteriolsclorosis. I think I was one of his few American fans but the Brits loved him. Guy could belt out a song… “you know it isn’t very pretty what a town w/o pity, can do”. I bet he and Tom Jones could really raise the roof!

  3. Leith says:

    Just after the Kremlin killed 21 civilians in Uman, including a toddler, two ten-year olds, and a 75-year old babushka; Putin’s Ministry of Homicide posted a photo on Telegram showing a missile launch and saying, “Right on target.”

    What a pity if Putin’s Russia described as a i>”gas station masquerading as a country” ended up not being able to supply its fleet in the Black Sea with fuel.

  4. scott s. says:

    It shows the mistake US Navy / DLA made in not maintaining the Red Hill storage facility in Hawaii. Now the plan is to defuel it and some will be stored in above ground tanks at a commercial facility on the west side of Oahu. The rest planned to moved into tankers for ?? Assuming DLA can find enough Jones Act tankers.

    • TTG says:

      scott s,

      I lived in military housing at Red Hill from 1978 to 1980. It was new officers housing on the ridge of the crater facing Pearl Harbor and Aloha Stadium. We would watch the fireworks at Aloha Stadium from our lanai. One day I told my young son, Erik, to look to the NW from the lanai at a certain time and he would see a big E in the sky. My mortar section calculated what it would take to make the E with illumination rounds. It was good training and a delightful surprise for my son.

      I’m hoping those fuel tanks were still intact while I lived there.

  5. Fred says:

    What took them so long? This would certainly have had more impact back when Moskva was slowl sinking beneath the surface of the Black Sea.

    • Poppa Rollo says:

      for Fred, destroying a strategic asset (fuel reserves) without the ability or plan for taking advantage of the fuel loss would simply give the Russians time to rebuild. Spring always comes, snows always melt.

      • Fred says:


        Morale same months ago from such a follow on strike would take a lot longer to recover from than lostfuel supplies will be now. Not that Ukraine had the ability to carry this out then.

  6. jim ticehurst.. says:

    Great Photo….Looks Like Perfect Precision…Laser Light Up…With Help From
    CCP Principals Still in Ukraine..And Mad That The Russians Messed up Thier
    Gateway To Europe…Make China Great Again..Operation Two Years Ago..

    This is a Good Example of Why You Must Have An All Electric Military…And
    NO Strategic Fuel Tanks Of Messy Oil..Gas…Diesel..No WH Pressers over Pollution….No Peacenicks…Just More ” Babble On Biden..”..and Not Kidding”

    .Wonder If This will Affect Russians Plans for a Seaport on The Coast of Sudan..At What China Will Get Away with Next” After MAY DAY..being Canceled in Cuba..
    NO FUEL…Are The Chinese There Yet…Or is ALL about Argentina Import/Exports.

    Now I Know Why The U.S. Navy is Decommissioning Perfectly Good Ships and Submarines… Guess They Lied..The Marines Dont Need Nothing..

    And..Yes…King Charles is German…So He Speaks His Fatherland Language..Its
    in His DNA…You Know..The Imperal Highness Thing..Its History..The LOOP
    Syndrome..Until They Get That Four Horsemen Scenario Right..and NO Reset
    When The BIG Button Finally Gets Pushed..Mad Max Mushrooms.. creating
    AI.. You Know…The Soul Less god.. ( little g) The Jealous one..

  7. drifter says:

    The apartment building in Uman was hit by a Ukrainian SAM, probably a BUK. You can tell from the video. The apartment building was struck on the West side. The damage is similar to other BUK strikes on Ukrainian buildings, and the testimony of locals describing damage to their apartments from fragments similar to these other strikes.

    • TTG says:


      Russia fired two Kh-101 cruise missiles at Uman. Such missiles have overflown Moldova before crossing back into Ukraine to strike targets in the past. What makes you think Ukraine would have AD systems around Uman? It hasn’t been the target of Russian strikes before and has no critical strategic targets requiring the deployment of scarce AD resources.

      • drifter says:

        Ha ha! So AD has to be right next to the target it hits? Look, we know Ukrainian AD is dropping warheads all over the place, including famously in Poland where an errant S300 killed a farmer. BUK has an operational range of 30 km and an out-of-control range of more than that. The hole in the building is too small for a cruise missile warhead of 350-400 kg. As for flying to Moldova and back, anything is possible, but possible isn’t evidence.

        • TTG says:


          The damage to the Uman apartment complex looks very similar to other damaged apartment buildings over the last few months attributed to cruise missiles and S-300 missiles modified for ground attack. A BUK warhead is a lot smaller.

          • drifter says:

            Zero evidence that Russia is using S300s to attack ground targets. Zero. Ukrainian officials in CYA mode spun this theory (lie) to explain why Ukrainian civilians were getting killed by Ukrainian AD. What goes up must come down, which you know as a mortarman.

            With regard to the assessment of the damage inflicted by the Ukrainian BUK on the apartment building in Uman, I can only refer your readers to the many videos of strikes online based on which they can make an independent judgement – as you suggest.

          • TTG says:


            The S-300 ground attack capability is well known. It was in Ria Novosti and Southern Military District releases years ago. Downed Russian S-300P missiles revealed their inertial guidance and GLONASS systems programmed for ground targets with plenty of photographic evidence.

      • Yeah, Right says:

        “What makes you think Ukraine would have AD systems around Uman?”

        I don’t understand the logic of that argument.

        A BUK missile has an engagement range exceeding 25 miles.
        An S-300 missile has an engagement range of over 50 miles.

        Any spent BUK or S-300 missile – by definition – is coming back down to earth because it has run out of fuel.

        Which means where it crashes down will be over 25 miles away from the BUK and over 50 miles away from the S-300 TEL that fired it.

        Maybe even well past those distances, since those are the engagement distance, not the distance that the missile can travel.

        So *if* this was a rogue Ukrainian missile (I’m not saying it “was”, just saying “if it was”) then the AD complex that fired it is very unlikely to have been “around Uman” at all.

        After all, it is indisputable that a Ukrainian S-300 missile landed inside Poland, and nobody ever suggested that this meant that Ukraine was firing S-300 missiles from inside Poland.

        • TTG says:

          Yeah, Right,

          You obviously have a sense of the size of Ukraine. The AD systems protecting Kyiv and Kyiv Oblast would have no impact on Uman. You note Kyiv is 130 miles away from Uman. Even AD systems protecting the Kherson/Odesa area wouldn’t help Uman unless the cruise missile overflew those areas. That’s why cruise missiles are sometimes sent over Moldova, to avoid those AD systems.

          • Yeah, Right says:

            “You obviously have a sense of the size of Ukraine.”

            I had a look at Uman on Google Maps before posting, yes, and like you I used the ruler to measure the distance between Kyiv and Uman.

            I also don’t tend to accept basic assumptions at face value…..

            TTG: “It hasn’t been the target of Russian strikes before”

            TUESDAY, 9 AUGUST 2022, 14:37 “Missile attack on the Uman district: one victim killed – head of the Cherkasy Oblast Military Administration”

            “Russia destroyed an ammunition depot which was storing US-made Himars missiles near the central Ukrainian city of Uman”

            OCTOBER 22, 2022 / 2:46 PM “The central city of Uman, a key pilgrimage center for Hasidic Jews which counted some 100,000 residents before the war, was also plunged into darkness after a rocket hit a nearby power station, regional authorities said on Telegram”

            Uman is not the centre of massive air attacks such as, say, Kyiv. But air attacks on or near the city are not unknown and – as Moscow insists – it is a place where HIMARS missiles are stored as they make their way from Poland to the front lines.

            TTG: ” and has no critical strategic targets requiring the deployment of scarce AD resources.”

            HIMARS missiles making their way to the front lines are very strategic assets indeed.

            Indeed, they are so strategic that I find it inconceivable that the Ukrainians would take them OUT of an effective AD umbrella as they make their way across the country.

          • TTG says:

            Yeah, Right,

            When I said Uman wasn’t targeted before, I thought a time or two in the last year plus would probably be uncovered. I don’t know about the 300 HIMARS rockets destroyed. Russia has so far claimed the destruction of more HIMARS than Ukraine ever had. I thought Uman might be on a north-south and east-west rail line, but the line to Uman is a spur rather than a through line. The through lines are 15 miles to the west. So even the Uman rail station has little to no military value.

            The power station hit seems real, although it was also eight months ago. The latest strike in Uman would have made more sense if it hit a warehouse or other industrial target than an apartment building. The second Kh-101 struck near that apartment building so I figure both missiles were targeted wrong or wrong coordinates programmed into the guidance systems.

          • Yeah, Right says:

            TTG: “I don’t know about the 300 HIMARS rockets destroyed. Russia has so far claimed the destruction of more HIMARS than Ukraine ever had.”

            The Russians clearly believed that HIMARS were being shipped via Uman on their way to the front.

            Reason enough for them to attack targets in or near Uman, is it not?

            And *if* it is true that the Ukrainians are using Uman as a staging post for HIMAR missiles (again, I’m not saying it “was”, just saying “if it was”) then it is unconceivable that the Ukrainians would leave that staging post outside of an AD umbrella.

            TTG: “The latest strike in Uman would have made more sense if it hit a warehouse or other industrial target than an apartment building.”

            That argument is a classic example of observation bias.

            You simply assume that the missile that struck that building was actually aimed at that building.

            Your only evidence for that belief are statements from the Ukrainians themselves.

            Who, obviously, have a proven track record of playing fast and loose with such “facts”.

            Just ask the Poles, who were less than impressed when Zelensky claimed that the S-300 that landed inside Poland was fired by the Russians when….. well… we all know that story.

            I am not disputing that a missile struck that building.

            But I have very real doubt that any missile was aimed at that building, and I have very real doubts that the missile that did hit that building was fired from a Russian TEL.

            I certainly do understand that you have no doubts on either score.

            But what you lack isn’t “conviction” so much as it is “evidence” for that proposition.

          • Yeah, Right says:

            TTG: “The second Kh-101 struck near that apartment building so I figure both missiles were targeted wrong or wrong coordinates programmed into the guidance systems”

            Those coincidences just keep piling up, don’t they?

            The Ukrainians claimed to have shot down every single cruise missiles except two.

            And those two just happen to be – inexplicably – the two missiles that were aimed at the wrong target inside Uman.

            That stretches credulity to breaking point, don’t you think?

            Here are two other explanations that seem to me to be far, far more likely:

            1) the Ukrainian dead-eye-dicks actually managed to hit those two Kh-101 just as they did all the others, causing those two missiles to crash into Uman rather than the warehouses they were aiming for.

            2) there weren’t actually two other Kh-101 cruise missiles *at* *all*. Just a couple of Ukrainian S-300 missiles that missed their target and then crashed into Uman.

            Either one seems to me to require *no* convoluted arguments involving the Ukrainians downing all-but-two Russian missiles, and those two charmed Russian missiles just-so-happened to have been given the wrong target co-ordinates.

      • Yeah, Right says:

        TTG: “Russia fired two Kh-101 cruise missiles at Uman.”

        AP News: “Overall, he [Ukrainian Armed Forces Commander in Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi] said, Ukraine intercepted 21 of 23 Kh-101 and Kh-555 type cruise missiles launched, as well as the two drones.”

        So the only two cruise missiles that weren’t shot down were the two cruise missiles that were deliberately aiming for an apartment building in a non-critical town 130 miles south of Kyiv.

        Hmmm. That sounds a bit…. odd… to me.

        I would have thought that the more likely explanation is that this impact was either a Russian cruise missile that was also shot down but whose warhead was not destroyed OR it was an impact caused by a Ukrainian BUK or S-300 missile that missed the Kh-101 it was aiming at and then crashed to earth.

        Either of those seem far more likely than that the only two cruise missiles the Ukrainians didn’t manage to shoot down were deliberated aimed at little kids and old women.

  8. fredw says:

    A good observation. I am glad to have seen it and TTG’s explanation. Another lesson in not jumping too fast to conclusions.

  9. Fourth and Long says:

    Freight train derailed in Bryansk Ru. Obvious sabotage. 2nd link has short film clips.
    The first videos from the train derailment in the Bryansk region. The head of the region confirmed the explosion of the railway track with an explosive device.
    Power line support blown up in Leningradskaya district.
    Text translation:
    A power line support was blown up in the Gatchina district, an object resembling an explosive device was found on another one.

    This was announced by the Governor of the Leningrad region Alexander Drozdenko. The explosion occurred around midnight on the territory of the Susaninsky settlement. Explosives experts and law enforcement officers are working on the spot — now the second pillar is being cleared.

    Is it tit-for-tat revenge for recent reported cruise missile attacks by Ru inside Ukraine, or harbingers of the long rumored offensive? The Bryansk train derailment photos include what look like fuel cars. Some people think the drone situation is out of control. Yes, almost, I guess. Imagine if it really was. These last look like planted devices, not drones.

  10. Fourth and Long says:

    Link to Moscow Times article. Text is translation of a Russian opposituinist.
    Moscow Times is also vehemently pro-Western. Despite one’s affiliations – how does this look to Russians – American military bases in Finland? I guess the question now is Disneyland in St Petersburg or Moscow?
    The first consequence of Finland’s accession to NATO. In addition to the Finnish army itself, American bases can now be deployed in Finland.

    Putin talked for so long that he would lay down with his chest in order to prevent the damned Americans from deploying their missiles in the Kharkov region (although the States themselves never uttered a single letter on this subject), that in the meantime he actually allowed the deployment of US bases 100 kilometers from the second largest metropolitan area in the country.

    In general, the further, the less doubts about the genius of this person. So to lead the country into a complete dead end – you need to have a special talent.
    Tangentially – does anyone else suspect that the reason behind CIA chief Burns being mentioned (along with Chomsky) as being in contact with Epstein is that he isn’t sufficiently hawkish? He gives off a highly civilized impression, very unlike the apparent reptiles with B and N names.

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