The oil transport company says it has uncovered evidence of a plot to attack the connector supplying oil to western European markets
Workers at the Russian oil pipeline transport company Transneft have reportedly found several explosive devices at the Novozybkov oil-pumping station of its Druzhba pipeline in the Bryansk region near Ukraine, according to company spokesperson Igor Demin.
Speaking to TASS, he stated that on Tuesday evening and on Wednesday morning, the devices were found in destroyed plastic cases of "non-industrial production" with a striking warhead in the form of steel balls.
"Presumably, the destruction of the cases occurred after hitting the ground when falling from drones," Demin suggested. He added that on Wednesday afternoon another explosive device was seen being dropped from a UAV, "likely similar to the other two [devices]."
At the same time, the Transneft representative pointed out that the Novozybkov pumping station had not been in operation throughout 2023 and that its reserve tanks are empty.
Demin added that, given the steel balls found in the explosives, the perpetrators of the sabotage likely did not intend to destroy the facility but instead wanted to kill members of the civilian personnel working at the Druzhba station.
The spokesperson noted that an investigation is currently underway and that nobody at the Novozybkov facility had been injured.
The Druzhba (Friendship) oil pipeline is one of the longest in the world and connects eastern parts of Russia to several points in Europe, including Ukraine, Belarus, Poland and Germany. However, the pipeline has repeatedly come under attack from Kiev's forces since Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine.
The last attack was reported on February 1, when Demin stated that a missile had landed on the territory of the Novozybkov station but ultimately failed to cause any damage or to injure any of the workers. On February 3, another attack was reported by media outlet Mash, but Transneft said it had no information on the alleged incident and that the pipeline was working normally.
The pipeline segment that is apparently being targeted by Ukraine is located some 39 kilometers from the border with Russia and leads in the direction of Belarus, where it branches off into two sections, one going to Germany and Poland and the other to Ukraine, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria and the Czech Republic.