Ukraine: Leaders blame ‘sabotage’ for explosion at munitions depot

'This is the arsenal of the Ukrainian Army, and I think it was no accident that it was destroyed' said Ukraine PM Volodymyr Hroysman, following explosions that prompted the evacuation of over 30,000

28 September 2017, 11:58am
Massive Ammunition Depot explosion in Ukraine (Photo: NTD Television)
Massive Ammunition Depot explosion in Ukraine (Photo: NTD Television)
Ukrainian leaders have claimed that “sabotage” was responsible for the massive explosions, at an ammunition depot in Central Ukraine. The explosion prompted the evacuation of over 30,000 people and the closure of airspace over the region on 27 September.

The blasts sparked a massive blaze at the depot near Kalynivka in the Vinnytsya region, around 270 kilometers west of Kyiv.

"We have to learn to defend our strategic facilities from sabotage groups," said president Petro Poroshenko during an emergency evening meeting with his top military commanders on the incident. "We will no longer put up with these events."

Ukraine's military prosecutor’s office had said earlier that investigators were treating the explosions and fire as an act of "sabotage," said Olena Hitlyanska, Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) spokeswoman.

Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroysman, who arrived in Vinnytsya just hours after the blast, said that "external factors" were also behind the incident.

"This is the arsenal of the Ukrainian Army, and I think it was no accident that it was destroyed," he said in televised remarks.

The Vinnytsia regional administration more than doubled the Ukrainian military's initial estimate of the amount of munitions stored in the depot to 188,000 tons.

While Hroysman's remarks suggested he believes the incident was connected with Kyiv's war against Russia-backed separatists, neither he nor Poroshenko named specific groups, nations, or individuals they believed to be responsible.

Zoryan Shkiryak, an adviser to the head of the Interior Ministry, said on Facebook that he was "convinced that this is a hostile Russian sabotage" and said it was the seventh fire at military warehouses in Kalynivka.

He said a state commission of inquiry will be set up to investigate the cause of the explosions.

No deaths or serious injuries were reported.

Late on 27 September, the Defense Ministry late said in a statement that shells and missiles that had been stored in the depot had stopped exploding and the fire at the depot had been brought largely under control.
Some 600 National Guard troops were deployed to the area to assist with the evacuation of the residents and to ensure the protection of their property from looters, the National Guard said in a statement. Some 1,200 Ukrainian firefighters worked to contain the blaze, Ukrainian news agency UNIAN reported.

After the explosions and fire broke out, local authorities said they shut off electricity and gas supplies and rerouted train and auto traffic around the disaster area.

The airspace within a radius of 50 kilometers from the zone of explosions was closed, Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Yuriy Lavrenyuk said on Facebook.