Moscow and Kyiv traded blame accusations after the key Togliatti-Odesa ammonia pipeline was blown up on June 5 by saboteurs.
The pipeline, the largest of its kind in the world, was destroyed by unknown actors as the number of incidents of arson and attacks on Russian assets rises steadily. The pipeline carries ammonia from a petrochemical plant from the southern Russian city of Togliatti to Odesa in Ukraine that is destined for the European markets. Ammonia is a key ingredient for making fertilisers amongst other things.
An explosion caused significant damage to a second of the pipeline in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region shutting the pipeline down. Russia earns hundreds of millions of dollars a year from piping ammonia across Ukraine to Europe each year. The free functioning of the pipeline has been one of the items on the list of Russian demands that were part of the recent negotiations to renew the Black Sea grain deal that was renewed on March 18 for another 120 days.
No one has stepped forward to claim responsibility for the attack and both the Kremlin and Bankova have blamed each other. The Kremlin said Ukrainian saboteurs blew up the pipeline on the evening of June 5, injuring several civilians in the process. Kyiv has denied any involvement.
The incident comes on top of explosions that destroyed the massive Nova Kakhovka dam on June 6, causing widespread flooding and destruction in southern Ukraine. No one has claimed responsibility for that act either and both sides have blamed the other for the disaster.
While it is widely believed that Russia is responsible for blowing up the dam, which was under the control of Russia’s occupying forces at the time, it is also possible that partisans operating independently destroyed the Togliatti-Odesa pipeline.
Partisan groups such as Freedom for Russia Legion (FRL) and the far-right Russia Volunteer Corps (RVC) made up of Russians fighting against Putin’s regime and in co-operation with the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) have become more active recently. Last week the two groups crossed into Russia and briefly occupied a village in the Belgorod region. Likewise, one of the theories of who blew up the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines in September is that the act was perpetrated by a group of Ukrainian patriots acting independently. At the same time, Russian state media recently reported that acts of sabotage and arson inside Russia have doubled in the last year.
A section of the Togliatti-Odesa pipeline was destroyed near the settlement of Masyutovka in the Kharkiv Region. The damaged sections of the pipeline are under repairs that will last one to three months, according to a Russian Foreign Ministry statement. The remaining ammonia in the pipeline is being drained.