Ukraine’s domestic spy agency has detonated explosives on a Russian railway line deep in Siberia, the second attack this week on military supply routes in the area, a Ukrainian source told Reuters on Friday.
The incidents appear to show Kyiv’s readiness and ability to conduct sabotage attacks deep inside Russia and disrupt Russian logistics far from the front lines of Moscow’s 21-month-old war in Ukraine.
The source, who declined to be identified, said the explosives were detonated as a freight train crossed the Chertov Bridge in Siberia’s Buryatia region, which borders Mongolia and is thousands of kilometres from Ukraine.
The train had been using a backup railway line after an attack on a nearby tunnel a day earlier caused trains to be diverted, the source said.
Baza, a Russian media outlet with security sources, said diesel fuel tanks had ignited on a train using the backup route and that six goods wagons had caught fire. It reported no casualties and said the cause of the explosions was unknown.
The Ukrainian source, who said both operations were conducted by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), gave a similar assessment of the damage, citing Russian Telegram channels.
Reuters could not independently verify the accounts or assess whether the route is used for military supplies. Russian Railways declined to comment on the latest incident. The regional branch of Russia’s Investigative Committee did not immediately respond to a written request for comment.
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The Ukrainian source said on Thursday the SBU had detonated explosives in the earlier attack as a cargo train moved through the Severomuysky tunnel in Buryatia.
Russian investigators have concluded that train was blown up in a “terrorist act” by unidentified individuals, the Moscow-based Kommersant newspaper cited unnamed sources as saying.
Russian Railways, the state company that operates the vast rail network, said traffic had been diverted along a new route after the first attack, slightly increasing journey times but not interrupting transport.
The Ukrainian source said the second attack had anticipated the diversion of rail traffic and targeted the backup route at Chertov Bridge, which is on Russia’s Baikal-Amur Mainline traversing Eastern Siberia and the Russian Far East.
Russia’s Trans-Siberian Railway is widely seen as more important for Russian freight transport than the Baikal-Amur Mainline.
A Russian industry source who declined to be identified said the backup route was functioning and being used by trains carrying freight on Friday afternoon.