Ukraine says it struck big Russian steel plant on invasion anniversary


Ukrainian drones hit a major Russian steel factory overnight, causing a large fire, a Kyiv source said on Saturday, the second anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The governor of Russia's Lipetsk region identified the plant as one in Lipetsk, some 400 km (250 miles) north of the Ukrainian border, responsible for about 18 per cent of Russian steel output.

He said a fire apparently caused by a drone strike had been extinguished at the plant, operated by Russian steelmaker Novolipetsk (NLMK), and there had been no casualties.

The Ukrainian source told Reuters the attack, a joint operation by GUR military intelligence and the SBU security service, had caused a major fire, and staff had been evacuated.

"Raw materials from this enterprise are used to manufacture Russian missiles, artillery, and drones. Therefore, it is a legitimate goal for Ukraine," the source said, without specifying the plant's location.

NLMK said in October 2022 that its Russian operations could not produce military-grade heavy steels and did not supply goods to the military, only rolled strip steel for general civilian use.

A video posted on social media purporting to be from Lipetsk showed an explosion, with orange flames illuminating the nighttime sky.

NLMK said on social media the fire had broken out at 1:40 a.m. (2:40 a.m. UAE time). The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The plant's production was suspended while an investigative team worked onsite, said a source familiar with the matter. The visible damage was not significant, the source added.

The Lipetsk plant specialises in flat steel, making 80 per cent of NLMK's steel products.

Ukrainian drone attacks on Russian military and industrial targets have become increasingly common in recent months, notably hitting oil facilities that Kyiv says are vital to the Russian war effort, but Ukrainian sources had not previously claimed responsibility for an attack on a steel plant.

Russian authorities said Ukrainian drones had been downed over the Lipetsk, Kursk and Tula regions overnight.

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