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Ukraine says Russian oil refineries are legitimate targets

FILE PHOTO: Aftermath of recent shelling in Donetsk

KYIV (Reuters) - A Ukrainian deputy prime minister said on Friday Russian oil refineries were legitimate targets for its forces, after a media report said the United States, a close ally, had asked Kyiv to stop conducting drone strikes on refineries.

Ukraine dramatically stepped up its attacks on Russian energy facilities this month, launching numerous long-range drones to strike Russia's biggest refineries, resulting in the temporary suspension of production at some of them.

"We understand the calls of the U.S. partners, but at the same time we are fighting with the capabilities, resources, and practices that we have," Olha Stefanishyna, the minister, told the Kyiv Security Forum.

She said energy facilities were legitimate targets from a military point of view.

The Financial Times cited people familiar with the matter saying Washington had urged Kyiv to halt strikes, warning of the risk of provoking retaliation and driving up global oil prices.

The attacks helped boost oil prices that have risen nearly 4% so far since March 12, when Ukraine hit a major oil refinery.

(Reporting by Yuliia Dysa, writing by Max Hunder; Editing by Tom Balmforth and David Evans)