Fire at the Slavyansk refinery in the Krasnodar region in southwest Russia after a Ukrainian drone strike, March 17, 2024

Saturday’s Coverage: Russia Kills 20+, Wounds 73+ in Missile Strikes on Odesa

Map: Institute for the Study of War


At least six people, including a girl, have been injured by a Russian missile attack on Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine.

Houses and infrastructure were damaged and cars were burnt out.

Russian attacks also damaged agricultural enterprises and destroyed several industrial buildings in neighboring Odesa.


The Russian Foreign Ministry has insisted — falsely — that citizens did not participate in the anti-Putin protests taking place outside Moscow’s embassies around the world.

Demonstrators have turned out on the third and final day of Russia’s managed Presidential election. The rallies coincide with the call of the camp of opposition politician Alexei Navalny, who died under harsh prison conditions last month, for Russians to congregate at polling stations at noon today in a display of protest.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova blustered:

Russian citizens did not come to the rallies and performances that unfriendly regimes and their paid information services are trying to present.

They came to cast their vote. Who they voted for and how they voted is their free choice. But the fact that they rejected the appeals of the marginalized is obvious to everyone.

But in the Armenian capital Yerevan, protesters queued for more than one kilometer around Russia’s large embassy complex in the center of the city.

All who spoke to journalists said they wanted to show opposition to Vladimir Putin and his policies.

One of them, Kirill, said:

It’s clear that the President will be elected without us.

I came personally to show that I disagree and to show that there are many of us. It seems to me that if the authorities see that there are many of us who disagree, then at least life in Russia may be a little easier for people and maybe some changes will occur.

In Latvia’s capital Riga, about 100 protestors gathered in front of the polling station at the Russian embassy.

Vladimir said he would cast a blank ballot: “I don’t want war, I don’t want things like in Ukraine.”

In London, Russian nationals spoiled their ballots and attended a Noon Against Putin demonstration.

Aleksandra Kallenberg said she spoiled her ballot by ticking three candidates besides Putin.

It is important, because I see my people, I see my nation, I see how many people are actually against the regime, against Putin, because our propaganda really tries to show that no one is actually against [him]….

I see how many people are actually here today and that’s very inspiring.

Dmitrii Moskovskii explained:

Many, many people inside Russia and outside of it have been saying to me that after Navalny’s death, they’ve really realized that this regime is crossing the line, that this regime is no more legitimate and cannot, do not, have a right to exist anymore.

The crowd chanted, “Russia without Putin, Putin is a killer.”

Inside Russia, at least 74 people were arrested, said human rights monitor OVD-Info.

Thousands attended noon protests at polling stations in Moscow, St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and other cities. Several dozen cases of vandalism were reported.


Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk has chided US House Speaker Mike Johnson, who is holding up a critical vote on $60.1 billion in American aid to Ukraine.

Citing Russia’s latest missile strikes on Odesa in southern Ukraine, killing 21 people and wounding 73 on Friday, Tusk posted:


UK Defense Minister Grant Shapps cancelled a trip to Odesa in southern Ukraine because of a Russian missile threat.

Shapps was warned by British intelligence that the Russians had become aware of his travel plans, as he was flying to Poland from the UK on March 6.

Meanwhile, a Russian missile landed about 500 meters from the convoy of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis as he was visiting Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Odesa.

See also Ukraine War, Day 743: Russia’s Missile Kills 5 in Odesa, Close to Zelenskiy and Greek Prime Minister

The attack raised the threat level to Shapps’ safety from substantial to critical.

Shapps, UK Chief of the Defense staff Adm Sir Tony Radakin, and a small delegation arrived by train in Kyiv on March 7. The onward trip to Odesa was cancelled after the intelligence update.


Ukraine air defenses downed 14 of 16 Iran-type “kamikaze” drones launched by Russia overnight.

The UAVs were intercepted over the Odesa and Mykolaiv regions during the three-hour attack.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has praised Kyiv’s “true long-range capability” as yet another Russian oil refinery was set on fire on Sunday.

Ukrainian drones attacked the Slavyansk oil refinery in the Krasnodar region in southwest Russia early Sunday. Videos showed explosions after the sound of the approaching UAVs.

The regional administration said there were no casualties, but one person died of a heart attack.

The Slavyansk refinery, about 70 km (45 miles) north of Krasnodar city, processes around 4.5 million metric tons of crude per year.

Zelenskiy told the nation, “What our own drones are capable of is a true Ukrainian long-range capability. Ukraine will now always have a strike force in the sky.”

Ukraine began the strikes in summer 2022 on refineries, warships and ports, warplanes and airbases, and supply and logistics positions in Russian-occupied Crimea and inside Russia.

The attacks had increasing success last year, and they have escalated in the past two months. Five oil refineries were hit within a week in February.

Since last Tuesday, Ukrainian drones have damaged at least six refineries, up to 1,000 km (621 miles) inside Russia, including the second- and seventh-largest. Almost 15% of Russian refining capacity has been affected.