Why did an Ukroboronprom factory explode in Donetsk oblast?

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2014/10/23 • Military analysis

Article by: Olexandr Peremot

The most important event in Donetsk, which even cast a shadow on the fact that it is impossible to hold the elections to the Verkhovna Rada there, was the emergency at the Donetsk state-owned factory for chemical products (which belongs to Ukroboronprom, the defense industry producer – ed.). Today we can easily claim that it was the most powerful and resonant explosion of all for several months: its consequences were felt in neighboring Makiyivka and Horlivka. The citizens of Donetsk felt the result themselves and in their homes: even on the opposite side of the city, 20 kilometers away from the factory, the explosive wave crashed windows and slammed doors. The definite cause of the cataclysm is still unknown, however, there are about a dozen versions of what happened. However, there are thee of those that are important and more or less realistic.

‘Tochka-U’ version 

At about 12 p.m. on October 20, the citizens of all Donetsk districts felt a powerful pish, and within several minutes the social networks were flooded with photographs of white smoke which was visible mostly from the central districts of the city. Within an hour, the press service of the Donetsk City Council reported that the reason was a shell that allegedly hit he Donetsk Coke Chemical Plant, which, by the way, produces ammunition, missiles and industrial explosives. Practically immediately it was proposed that the Ukrainian Armed Forces had fired at the city using a missile division complex, Tochka-U.

This version has two quite serious arguments. First, the territory of the plant is located near the airport, the hottest stop in Donetsk with ongoing combat. It is possible that the shell was fired in response to the attacks of mercenaries who frequently located their artillery troops on civilian territories (residential buildings, factories etc.). If it the instances of attacks from residential areas are frequent, what could have prevented the pro-Russian forces to fire from the territory of the factory? Second, two shells had already landed on the factory on October 20. Back then, gunpowder stocks were detonated at the factory, however there was no powerful explosion such as now. Therefore, rumors about Tochka-U started, as the consequences from its detonation are much more significant that the Grad’s, which are already traditional in Donetsk.

However, the version has weaknesses. As such, for example, the technical characteristics of Tochka-U declare several types of combat equipment, in particular: nuclear, chemical, fugasse and cluster munition. The first two are not an option only for the sake of common sense (there have been no instances of chemical or nuclear attacks in Donetsk). The other two also have problems: the fugasse version has a radius of about 2-3 hectares, and the cluster one – up to 7 hectares. Of course, it is difficult for people alien to the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ to reach the territory of the plant, however, there are residences around the factory, which, naturally, suffered damage, and practically the entire Kuybyshevsky district was left without windows – the 15 thousand missile shells would have definitely done more damage.

The usage of cluster weaponry was not documented by OSCE monitoring group. “We have about 90 observers in East Ukraine. If we had seen something like this, we would have documented it, however nothing like this has happened as of today,” says representative of the special monitoring OSCE mission in Ukraine Michael Bociurkiw.

It’s their fault

The second version as to why the explosion happened: the mercenaries are to blame. This situation is not strange, taking into account that the ‘rebellion’ includes not only professional servicemen but amateurs, who not so long ago were taxi drivers, plumbers and unemployed. This version is more credible due to what happened on October 1: back then, at a tram stop in Kalininsky district, one of the mercenaries demonstratively played with a grenade which exploded as a result. Fortunately, none of the passersby suffered. Only the mercenary died.

“As to the explosion which happened on the terrorist-occupied territory of the Donetsk state-owned chemical plant, after the mercenaries captured this factory, whose stocks had a significant amount of explosive materials, the terrorists attempted to set up production of explosives,” emphasized NDSC information center speaker Andriy Lysenko. He also noted that, according to operative data and explosive experts, the emergency at the factory most likely happened due to the fact that the mercenaries did not follow the technological process.

Sabotage-intelligence groups or partisans

The third version remains the most interesting. It consists of the fact that the loud explosion at the factory which contained T4 (the material used for the production of detonators and industrial explosives) is the work of the partisan pro-Ukrainian movement. On social networks, a page of the ‘leader of anti-DNR partisans’ even appeared, who took repressibility for the explosion. He emphasized that the explosion did not result from a Tochka-U, it was caused by mined basis and mercenary stocks. However, almost immediately the page became unavailable and everyone should decide for themselves how to view this information. However…

There have already been reports of partisan movements in Donetsk or the region. As such, for example, on August 7, some media reported that unidentified individuals shot the crew of a ‘republican’ Grad on the outskirts of Donetsk.

We can also remember the attempts to murder one of the leaders of the ‘republic,’ Denis Pushilin. The first one happened on June 7, when unidentified people show at the car of the ‘first head of the presidium of the DNR high council’ near the Donetsk Oblast Administration building. According to eyewitnesses, the ‘official’ and his assistant were inside the vehicle when 15 shots were fired at them from a passing car, resulting in the death of Pushilin’s assistant.

The second attempt occurred within almost a week, on June 12. Unidentified individuals blew up a car at the Donetsk OA building. Seven people were injured, three of which died. The ‘DNR’ press service emphasized that a van with the security service of the ‘co-head of the republic’ Pushilin inside. According to some accounts, the explosives were inside the car parked on the side of the road, and blew up when the van drove by.

Besides, even earlier, on June 2, unidentified people in a car, used a grenade launcher to shoot at the Donetsk Oblast Administration. The separatists claim they were preparing to murder ‘people’s governor’ Pavel Gubarev, who was taken to a safe location after this. “At night the building of the DNR government (the Donetsk OA – ed.) suffered grenade fire. The shot was made from a passing car. Nobody was injured,” emphasized the ‘DNR’ press service.

Of course, all of these facts may also testify to internal movements and processes in the ‘young state,’ which is what the mercenaries call their group, that there is a war for the best places in government. After the murder attempts, both Gubarev and Pushilin made numerous speeches at protests were delegated to official ‘DNR’ events.

However, the partisan version is extraordinarily strong, if we are to note the numerous statements made by the leadership of the ‘republic,’ that there are Ukrainian sabotage-intelligence groups working on the territory of Donetsk. Naturally, in most cases it is an attempt to justify their own looting and kidnapping in the city. However, if the ballistic missile version has a chance to live, why should the partisan one, which is quite grounded in the previous events, go ignored?

Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina
Source: Radio Liberty

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  • Milton Devonair

    As long as there were russians and chechens vaporized in it, it should be looked at as a very positive and encouraging event for humankind.

  • Michel Cloarec

    That they kill themselves is a good new !

  • Paul P. Valtos

    Only Russians can heap more conflict on this area. Its the old story of assigning blame and disinformation which Moscow is adept at.