Day 694: Ukrainian drones target Russian oil terminal in Leningrad region

Ukrainian drones target a Russian oil terminal in the Leningrad region. France will produce 78 Caesar howitzers for Ukraine this year.

Ukrainian drones target Russian oil terminal in Leningrad region

Overnight on January 18, Ukrainian drones attacked an oil terminal in Russia’s Leningrad region, and some hit targets. The operation was conducted by the Main Intelligence Department of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry, Ukrainian news sites Ukrainska Pravda and Suspilne said, citing sources in the defense intelligence.

“The operation was conducted by the Main Intelligence Department and included the use of modern Ukrainian drones. Data gathering continues, and there are confirmations that [some of the drones] hit targets. From now on, military sites in St Petersburg and the Leningrad region are within range of Ukrainian forces,” the statement reads.

This was not the first time that Ukrainian drones attacked the Leningrad region, a source in Ukraine’s defense intelligence added. “But this time there are differences, and the enemy has felt them,” the source said.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said Thursday that air defense systems shot down two plane-type drones over the regions of Moscow and Leningrad.

The drone strike on the Leningrad region targeted an oil terminal in the Baltic Sea, reports on Russian social media said. According to Russian news outlet “Shot”, “one of the drones fell at the terminal and caught fire.”

Another Russian news site, Baza, said there were three drones — two were allegedly “suppressed by electronic warfare systems and fell into the Gulf of Finland,” and one was “shot down” over the terminal at around 1:30 a.m. local time. 

“Drone debris fell in an open area of a port’s elevator between fuel tanks. The drone exploded, igniting a fire. The fire covered 130 square meters. The drones were launched from Ukraine and flew across the Bryansk, Smolensk, Tver, and Novgorod regions [more than 1,000 kilometers],” it said on Telegram.

The St Petersburg oil terminal is reportedly Russia’s biggest oil transshipment facility in the Baltics. 

Russian authorities also reported a fresh missile attack on the city of Belgorod on Thursday morning. They said air defenses had downed all 10 Ukrainian missiles.

France to produce 78 Caesar howitzers for Ukraine this year

France will be able to produce 78 Caesar self-propelled howitzers for Ukraine this year.

Speaking to France Inter radio, French Armed Forces Minister Sébastien Lecornu said Caesar manufacturer Nexter had managed to halve the production time of the howitzer to 15 months meaning that some 78 units would be available this year.

Overall, Ukraine has received 49 Caesar howitzers since the war started. France will buy the additional 12 using EUR 50 million from its EUR 200 million special fund for Ukraine, Lecornu said Thursday. In addition to the dozen that France will provide, Kyiv has bought six more expected to be delivered in the coming weeks. He called on Ukraine’s other partners to “share the bill” for the other 60 Caesars that will come out of the factory.

Lecornu said Kyiv had bought six howitzers for between three and four million euros each. He spoke at the launch of the so-called artillery coalition — a group of 23 countries led by France and the U.S., willing to think about Ukraine’s long-term artillery needs. 

More deliveries are promised. French President Emmanuel Macron this week said he would head to Ukraine in February to finalize a bilateral security guarantee deal and announced plans to supply about 40 additional SCALP long-range missiles. 

On Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi had a phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron.

“I spoke with Emmanuel Macron to thank France for launching the artillery collation for Ukraine and committing to produce dozens of Caesars and ammunition for them in 2024,” Zelenskyi said on X.

“We discussed in detail the battlefield situation, Ukraine’s priority defense needs, including items for France’s next military aid package, and the need to further strengthen Ukraine’s air defense,” Zelenskyi said.

He thanked French businesses for investment in Ukraine in wartime and their willingness to invest more. He also spoke of the preparations for the Global Peace Summit and a need for a wide participation in it. 

“We directed our political and military advisors to prepare for President Macron’s visit to Ukraine and to expedite negotiations on the bilateral agreement on security guarantees following the G7 Vilnius Declaration,” Zelenskyi said.

Can Russian frozen assets be a potential lifeline for Ukraine? Ukraine in Flames #561

Hundreds of billions of dollars in Russian state assets, frozen in the West after the full-scale invasion began, could potentially aid Ukraine. These efforts received a new boost from the United States after the Biden administration proposed to approve a strategy to transfer these assets to Ukraine. The urgency of the confiscation issue was added by delays in approving large aid packages for Ukraine, which forced Ukraine’s allies to look more closely at other sources of support for Ukraine. Watch Ukraine in flames #561 to find out about the feasibility of transferring confiscated Russian assets to Ukraine, exploring the methods, risks, and challenges tied to this political decision.


  • Serhiy Budkin, Founding Partner of FinPoint Investment Advisors
  • Yaroslav Sydorovych, European Cooperation Agency
  • Ihor Stokoz, Public Activist