Putin risks Russian revolt as Ukraine drone attacks spark fuel shortage concern

Putin risks Russian revolt as Ukraine drone attacks spark fuel shortage concern

WATCH: Ukrainian MP calls for allies to use Russian assets

GB News
George Bunn

By George Bunn

Published: 11/04/2024

- 10:05

It is claimed Moscow is turning to neighbours for help

Vladimir Putin is risking a revolt as Russia faces fuel shortages following Ukrainian drone attacks on refineries.

Drone attacks had knocked out some 14 per cent of Russian primary oil refining capacity as the end of March, with a drone taking out the country’s third largest oil refinery into Russia’s Tatarstan region on April 2.

So far, Russian authorities have said the situation on domestic fuel markets is stable and stockpiles large enough.

However, three industry sources said Russia has asked Kazakhstan to stand ready to supply it with 100,000 tons of gasoline in case of shortages. Officials in both Moscow and Astana have denied this.

Putin/Drone strike

Drone strikes like the one in Tatarstan have caused a strain on Russian energy supplies


According to S&P Global Commodity Insights, the drone assaults from Ukraine have left 16 per cent of Russia’s total refining capacity offline at the end of March.

A loss of refinery capacity both reduce fuel for his war machine, it leaves Putin with less product to export to countries such as India and China that still trade freely with Russia. That poses a threat to the Kremlin’s revenues.

Russia's government is also thought to be looking at the possibility of introducing some easing of rigorous fuel environmental standards in order to allow the usage of low-quality gasoline if there are shortages.

Since 2016, Russia has allowed only the usage of high-quality gasoline of at least Euro-5 grade. But sources said that the Russian government is considering lowering the bar for the content of some additives and ethanol.



Vladimir Putin


There are also concerns that the drone attacks could drive up prices at the pumps for ordinary Russians, a scenario that could threaten social unrest.

Associate at Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Craig Kennedy said: "Some people are saying that the numbers we’ve seen so far just aren’t enough for Russia to really feel the pain.

"That’s true today but if it continues at this rate, sooner or later, it will feel pain."

According to calculations, drone attacks forced Russian refineries to shut in around 14 per cent of capacity in the first quarter.

Smoke coming from a refinery

Smoke billows after Ukraine's SBU drone strikes a refinery, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Ryazan, Ryazan Region, Russia


Expert on Russia's energy industry Sergey Vakulenko said: "If the stream of drones continues at this rate and Russian air defences don't improve, Ukraine will be able to cut Russian refining runs quicker than Russian firms will be able to repair them."

In 2023, total gasoline output in the country reached almost 44 million tons. In the first quarter 2024 it stood at 11.1 million.

Kennedy told The Telegraph: "The Russian public is very sensitive to gasoline prices, so much so that the Russian government shields them from the international price, which is much higher.

"Cheap gasoline is subsidised domestically to keep people happy. If suddenly there is a shortage of gasoline, the upward pressure on prices is going to be big and that could fuel social discontent."

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