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Peter Zeihan

Geopolitical Strategist

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Ukrainian drone strikes reveal Russian vulnerabilities

Mar 14

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Peter Zeihan

Geopolitical Strategist

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Ukrainian drones hit Russian oil refineries for a second day this week, partially destroying and setting fire to Rosneft’s largest refinery on Wednesday, March 13. Ukrainian drones have also been targeting Russian air bases and military airfields.

Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan says that the drone attacks indicate crucial Russian vulnerabilities and that they also demonstrate Ukraine’s ability to strike deep inside Russian territory. Zeihan suggests that there might be dire economic consequences as these attacks continue.

The following is an excerpt from Peter’s March 14 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

Ukraine has been ramping up drone strikes and they just successfully hit another refining complex in Russia. The strike on the Nizhny Novgorod complex triggered a major fire and caused significant damage to storage units as well as other refining equipment. The pipeline network, however, remains intact.

This attack highlights Ukraine’s ability to strike Moscow and just how vulnerable Russian infrastructure is to drone attacks. Since the majority of the Russian population and infrastructure falls within striking distance, we could see major disruptions to Russian exports.

As Ukrainian drone strikes continue to ramp up, there will likely be far-reaching implications for Russian oil. We’ll continue to monitor this situation and release updates as needed.

Hey everybody, Peter Zeihan here coming to you from outside of Niederlande, Colorado. The news today is that the Ukrainians have taken some long-range drones, excuse me, and throw them in some Russian targets, some of which are over 1,000 miles from the border. The ones that matter the most are is a refining complex in the city of Nitze-Novgorod, which is a couple hundred miles east of Moscow that sits on a major pipeline nexus, they haven’t damaged the pipeline system. And you’re not gonna probably not going to do that in any meaningful way for drones because they can be repaired so quickly. Instead, they went after some small refineries.

 

Now, if you’re looking for a Hollywood-style explosion, you’re never going to see that in a refinery, there’s a lot of standoff distance, and the stuff that’s flammable is usually not adjacent to other stuff that is flammable. That doesn’t mean you can’t do a significant amount of damage. And in this case, it looks like they were going after some of the fractionating columns, and at least a couple of the storage tanks, fuel storage tanks, at least one hit was significant to the point that it caused a major fire that at the point that I’m recording this, at the point that I’m recording this, about eight hours after the attack is still burning.

 

Something to keep in mind, Russia is a big ass place. And as the Germans discovered during World War Two, they have to move things further and further and further from the Western periphery, in order to protect it from aerosols. But in the age of drones, this doesn’t matter nearly as much, because these things have ranges in the hundreds of miles. Which means that everything in European Russia, which is where 75 80% of the Russian population live and most of the physical infrastructure is is potentially in range. So while the Ukrainians can’t shut the country down, they can cause enough interruptions to the processing capacity. That and maybe even pumping stations that make it difficult for the Russians turn export income. And the impact of that could be far more than what the West has done with sanctions on the Russians. So far. We’ve seen this with a few port facilities in recent weeks. And now the Ukrainians are demonstrating the capacity to strike deeper and deeper and deeper into Russia. And they have now almost been able to reach Tatarstan, which is the most important nexus point that the Russians have because it sits on the infrastructure that connects European Russia to all of Siberia. And if for whatever reason there’s meaningful damage there, you’re talking about something like a third of Russian oil exports go offline overnight. So that is what’s to watch for in the days ahead. Stay tuned.

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