A fuel depot in the Ukrainian Black Sea port city, Odesa, is burning on Sunday, CNN confirmed. They reported, based on witness accounts, that six explosions had been heard at the depot before sunrise. 

Several witnesses also told CNN that drones had been spotted around the area over the past two days. The news agency reported thick, black smoke was rising from the depot, situated next to a railway track. Further, CNN reported that a secondary explosion was heard while attempts were underway to control the blaze, but no casualties had been reported at the time. 

Odesa city council confirmed, on Telegram, it was hit by Russian airstrikes, saying “Odesa was attacked from the air. Some of the missiles were downed by our air defence system. In some districts fire has broken out”. 

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The fire at Odesa’s fuel depot comes after Russia accused Ukraine of an airstrike on an oil depot in Belgorod, located near the war-torn country’s border. When President Volodymyr Zelensky was asked about the alleged attack, he said that his orders to Ukraine’s military were not up for discussion. However, the head of state mentioned that Russian troops “were placing their shooting systems and were firing missiles themselves” when speaking of the territory. 

Of late, Russia has been carrying out a series of attacks targeting Ukraine’s petroleum storage sites. The nation’s military spokesperson also blamed Russia for attacking an oil refinery in Ukraine’s Kremenchuk

Since the start of the invasion on February 24, Russian troops have focused on Ukraine’s energy sources, including nuclear power plants. With Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhya being initially captured by Russians, there was some fear of radiation fallout. Russia’s actions sparked global concern, even from the usually-reticent China

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The current attack on Ukraine’s fuel reserves comes at a time when Russia is beginning to lose its global dominance in energy resources. Zelensky has already urged Qatar to ramp up energy production, and the US has banned Russian oil imports. The UK and European Union (EU) are all poised to reduce dependence on Russian gas and fuel, leaving Moscow with China as one of its biggest buyers. Now, after a meeting with Delhi, India is on board to buy Russian oil too. 

However, President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine have shown him that nations are willing to play hardball, as many have turned down his offer to pay in rubles for Russian gas and fuel.