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Ukrainian forces attacked on Monday offshore oil and gas drilling platforms in the Black Sea, the Russia-installed head of Crimea said.
Gas production is temporarily halted from the platforms, but there are no disaster-like consequences, Olga Kovitidi, a senator representing Crimea in Russia’s upper house of parliament, told Russian news agency Interfax.
According to a post on Telegram by Sergei Askyonov, who was appointed as head of the peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, Ukrainian forces attacked drilling platforms of the company Chernomorneftegaz in the Black Sea. Askyonov said he was in contact with the Russian ministry of defense and with the Federal Security Service (FSB), the main successor of the KGB.
Crimea-based oil and gas exploration company Chernomorneftegaz, which operates in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, was seized by Russia-backed officials in Crimea from Ukraine’s state gas firm Naftogaz after the Russian annexation of Crimea back in 2014. Chernomorneftegaz has been under U.S. and EU sanctions since 2014.
Five people, including three injured, have been rescued after today’s attack on the platform, the Russia-installed official of Crimea said. A search and rescue operation is ongoing, he added.
At the time of the attack, there were 109 people on the three drilling rigs in the Black Sea, Askyonov told Russian state TV. In an update on the attack, he said that 21 people were evacuated, five were injured, and search operations were being carried out for the rest.
Russian lawmaker Mikhail Sheremet said that Russia would respond with “retaliatory strikes” on Ukrainian “decision-making centers,” The Moscow Times reports.
The Ukrainian military declined to comment on the reports of the attack on drilling platforms, Reuters reported, noting that it could not immediately verify those reports.
Meanwhile, the fight over the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine intensifies, with Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar telling the Associated Press that the Kremlin had ordered the Russian military to overrun the entire Luhansk region by next Sunday.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com