Ukraine's airstrike on Russian fuel depot jeopardizes peace talks: Kremlin

Spokesman says gas supplies will not be halted on Friday if European contractors refuse to open ruble accounts in Russian banks.

Ukraine's airstrike on Russian fuel depot jeopardizes peace talks: Kremlin

Ukraine's attack on a fuel depot in Russia is not conducive for peace negotiations to continue, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday. 

On Friday night, Governor Belgorod Oblas Vyacheslav Gladkov posted on Telegram that two Ukrainian helicopters targeted a fuel base in the city of Belgorod, near the border, igniting eight oil reservoirs and injuring two employees.

"The fire at the oil depot occurred as a result of an airstrike by two helicopters of the armed forces of Ukraine, which entered the territory of Russia at a low altitude.

"Two workers were injured; residents of houses on three streets near the fuel base are being evacuated. Eight reservoirs are burning," he wrote.

Peskov said the incident "is not something that can be perceived as creating comfortable conditions for the continuation of negotiations."

President Vladimir Putin was also told about the situation, he added.

Turning to the subject of Russian gas payments in rubles, Peskov said supplies will not be halted on Friday if European contractors refuse to open ruble accounts in Russian banks.

"Payment for those deliveries that are going on now should not be made today, it should be made at the end of the second half of the month, April, or even at the beginning of May," he noted.

He acknowledged that the decision to sell gas for rubles may be reversed in the future, but that for the time being, this option is the best for Moscow.

Peskov also criticized German media reports claiming that Berlin may nationalize subsidiaries of Russian energy giant Gazprom.

"Such a plan would very seriously violate international law and all conceivable rules and laws. Therefore, we will monitor it (the reports) very carefully. Of course, we consider even the very elaboration of such a question unacceptable," he stressed.

Asked how this alleged nationalization could affect Germany's gas contracts, Peskov answered, "These are different stories."

"But we are now seeing a massive line on the bandit seizure of property, which occurs by (withdrawing) funds from bank accounts, private property, and so on. Clear-cut bandit actions were taken against Russian international reserves. If the nationalization is added to this now, then, of course, it does not bode well," he said.

On March 23, President Putin ordered that payments for Russian gas supply to Europe be made in rubles, despite EU sanctions against Moscow.

The Russia-Ukraine war, which started on Feb. 24, has been met with international outrage, with the European Union, US and UK, among others, implementing tough financial sanctions on Moscow.

At least 1,232 civilians have been killed in Ukraine and 1,935 injured, according to UN estimates, with the true figure feared to be far higher.

More than 4 million Ukrainians have also fled to other countries, with millions more internally displaced, according to the UN refugee agency.

Hüseyin Demir

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