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A series of unexplained fires and explosions at strategic locations in Russia, including a sensitive defense research site and the country’s largest chemical plant, have raised suspicions of some kind of sabotage.

Russian media, citing local officials, said Wednesday that explosions were reported overnight in three regions near Ukraine’s eastern border — including Belgorod, where the Kremlin earlier this month accused Ukraine of carrying out a helicopter attack against a fuel depot.

Those followed a fire on Monday at two oil storage depots in the Russian city of Bryansk near the Ukrainian border, Russian media reported. The site’s loss could disrupt vital oil supplies to the Ukraine war’s northeastern front, where Russian troops are pressing ahead with an attempt to seize territory in the Donbas region.

Footage shared on social media of one of Monday’s blasts suggested it was caused by “an air or missile strike,” according to a tweet by Rob Lee, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. The depots are less than 100 miles from Ukraine, within range of that country’s Tochka tactical ballistic missiles, Lee noted.

An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declined to comment on whether Ukraine was responsible and said there could be many different reasons for the fires, including what he called “karma.”

“If you [Russians] decided to attack another country en masse, kill everyone there en masse, crush civilians with tanks en masse, and use warehouses in your regions to ensure the killings, then sooner or later the debts will have to be repaid,” Mykhailo Podolyak said in a Telegram post written in Russian. “And therefore the disarmament of the murderers’ Belgorod-Voronezh warehouses is an absolutely matter-of-course, natural process. Karma is a cruel thing.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov previously said Russia was investigating the cause of the fires.

If Ukraine is behind the attacks on Russian soil, it would represent a major escalation in the war. It also would be a significant embarrassment for Russia, spotlighting how the country it invaded two months ago with the expectation of a swift victory has managed to strike back deep inside its territory.

At least two other fires well out of the range of Ukrainian missiles can’t easily be explained.

Last Thursday, a blaze tore through the upper stories of the Defense Ministry’s Second Central Research Institute in the town of Tver, northwest of Moscow; at least 17 people died, according to Russia’s state-run Tass news agency. More than two dozen people were injured, the news agency said, including some who jumped for their lives out of the building’s upper floors.

The institute is known as a center for highly sensitive research on key missile systems, including Russia’s most advanced stealth programs as well as the Iskander missile, extensively used in Ukraine, and the S-400 air defense system.

Tass said initial inquiries suggested the fire was caused by an electrical fault but that a criminal investigation had been launched.

Hours later, Russia’s biggest chemical plant burned down, also for unknown reasons. The Dmitrievsky Chemical Plant, located about 208 miles northeast of Moscow in Kineshma, was a major supplier of propellants essential for the production of the precision-guided missiles Russia needs for the war.

A third fire then engulfed a sensitive facility at the College of Aerospace Engineering and Technology in the Moscow suburb of Korolyov, which is renowned as the home of the Soviet Union’s and Russia’s space programs.

The fact that so many fires have broken out at key locations in such a short period is “quite suspicious,” said Dmitri Alperovitch, chairman of the Silverado Policy Accelerator think tank in Washington. However, he added, it is “really impossible to tell at this stage.”

There are explanations other than sabotage, Alperovitch said. Accidental fires are not unusual in Russia, which has a reputation for poor maintenance, and Western sanctions are making it harder to secure spare parts for vital machinery.

Arestovych doubts Ukraine was involved in the fires at the defense-related facilities and suggested that Russian officials are setting fires to cover up evidence of corruption.

Annabelle Timsit and Rachel Pannett contributed to this report.

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