Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron in the Kremlin, Moscow, Russia, February 7, 2022

Wednesday’s Coverage: Kyiv Strikes Oil Refinery 744 Miles Inside Russia

Map: Institute for the Study of War


Discussions at the NATO summit in Brussels today have revolved around air defense and weapons for Ukraine.

Speaking alongside Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock assured:

We heard loud and clear what the Foreign Minister said and I also would like to underline, we see what’s happening in Ukraine, realising that you need this air defense now.

We will call in Europe again that everybody has to check where their air defense is [and] what they can provide to Ukraine.

Kuleba then briefed US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on “Russia’s increased air terror against Ukrainian cities and communities, including with the use of ballistic missiles, and urged our American partners to find ways to provide additional Patriot air defense systems as soon as possible”.

Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis warned, “There is little mystery about what can happen if we keep waiting for a miracle. Territories can be lost, countries can be occupied. There is no positive spin to this story, no happy ending, unless we choose to rewrite this script.”

And NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said bluntly, “We need to do more.” Otherwise, there is the risk that Russia captures more territory.


Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has commented on Russia’s deadly drone strikes on Kharkiv, reiterating:

Russian terrorists will be held accountable for their actions in Kharkiv and for all acts of aggression against our people. We are working with our partners to strengthen the protection of our cities and villages and to protect our citizens. Strengthening Ukraine’s air defense capabilities directly translates into saving lives.

In Brussels for ceremonies marking the 75th anniversary of NATO, Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said of Russia’s “continued unprecedented missile and drone attacks”:

I don’t want to spoil the birthday party, but my main message today will be Patriots….

Saving Ukrainian lives, saving Ukrainian economy, saving Ukrainian cities depends on the availability of Patriots and other air defense systems in Ukraine….Providing Patriots depends on allies, they have plenty of them.

In Kharkiv, a firefighter cries at the site where his father, a 52-year-old rescuer, was killed:


Ukraine’s strikes on refineries reduced Russia’s gasoline production by 12% in the last week of March, confirms the Russian business daily Kommersant.

Diesel production fell 3.5%.

Ukrainian drones targeted at least eight Russian refineries in mid-March, four of which have either partially or completely halted operations.

Reuters estimates that the strikes have cut Russia’s primary oil refining capacity by 14% as of the end of March.

Russia’s Energy Minister Nikolai Shulginov maintained Wednesday that many of the damaged refineries will go back online in coming months. Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said oil companies had been instructed to ramp up gasoline and diesel production “to avoid possible risks”.


German companies Knauf and WKB Systems GmbH are participating in the “reconstruction” of occupied Mariupol, destroyed by Russian troops in spring 2022, according to an investigation by journalists of the Monitor program of the German TV channel ARD.

The port city in southeast Ukraine was overrun by 12 weeks of Russian bombing, ground assaults, and siege that levelled much of the area. Ukrainian officials estimate that at least 25,000 people could have been killed.

ARD’s journalists examined websites of construction companies, documents, photos, and videos. These established that Russia uses the Knauf company’s cement in construction.

Knauf currently employs 4,000 people in Russia.

The company insisted in a statement that it condemns Russia’s war against Ukraine and “complies with all European Union sanctions against Russia”. Its products in Russia are “exclusively for the Russian market”.

The investigation also found video displaying concrete blocks in green packaging film with the name of WKB Systems, which is based in the Munsterland region of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The company’s main shareholder is Russian businessman Viktor Budarin.

Customs data documented that WKB Systems has been supplying complete plants for aerated concrete block factories for years to one of Budarin’s Russian companies.


At least four civilians have been killed and 12 wounded by Russian drone attacks on Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv overnight.

Russia fired 20 drones on the Kharkiv region in northeast Ukraine, with 11 downed by air defenses.

Three of the dead were rescuers, killed when Russia hit a multi-story building damaged in an earlier strike.

A 69-year-old woman was killed in a 14-story block targeted by another Iran-type UAV.

About 350,000 residents are without power after the assault.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: On Wednesday, France and Russia held their first high-level discussions since October 2022 — but Moscow then misrepresented the reason for the talks and their content.

The French Government said Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu called Russian counterpart Sergey Shoygu to discuss the elevated threat of terrorism. The contact was prompted by the March 22 attack by Islamic State-Khorasan on the Crocus City concert hall near Moscow, which killed at least 144 people.

A Russian readout acknowledged that Lecornu “strongly condemned the terrorist attack that took place in the Moscow Region” and “expressed solidarity with the families of the victims”. France had no information that would establish a link between the terrorist attack and Ukraine — the line pushed without support by Vladimir Putin and senior Russian officials.

But the Kremlin declared that Lecornu’s “readiness for a dialogue on Ukraine was noted”, implying that France is ready for negotiations based on Russian terms over its 25-month invasion of its neighbor.

A “French Government source” knocked back the statement, “It is not true. At no moment did we show any willingness to dialogue on Ukraine or negotiations or anything like that.”

The Kremlin’s falsehood is part of an attempt to undermine a forthcoming international meeting in Switzerland on the Ukraine Peace Formula. The Russians said discussion of the 10-point plan to end the invasion, first tabled by Ukraine President Voldoymyr Zelenskiy in November 2022 at a G20 summit in Bali, is “pointless” if Moscow is excluded from the meeting.

The Russians also used the readout to warn Emmanuel Macron about the French President’s suggestion that NATO and European troops could be deployed in Ukraine to support Kyiv’s resistance. The readout said Shoygu noted any “practical implementation” of the suggestion would “create problems for France”.

Ukraine War, Day 751: Macron — “Ukraine Must Win. There Will Be No Red Lines”

The French Defense Ministry statement responded that in Russia’s “war of aggression”, “France will continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes and as intensely as needed.”

The Ministry also noted that Shoygu repeated Putin’s disinformation of a Ukrainian link to the Crocus City attack by ISIS-K.