The Ukrainian president’s birthday was celebrated in a big way this year. The celebration ended with large-scale fireworks at one of the ammunition depots in Kalinovka in Vinnitsa region.Of course, the incident is a tragedy that resulted in the evacuation of 30,000 people, the airspace shut-down within a radius of 50 kilometres from the epicentre of the fire, and the rerouting of more than a dozen trains. Fortunately, the fire was extinguished much faster this time than it was at the munition depot in Balakleya in Kharkov region in March.
The Ukrainian leadership now has a challenging task ahead of them, which is to identify those responsible for that. Its complexity lies in the fact that the leadership of the country is still unable to determine the number of destroyed munition, the area of fire or the cause of it.
Some completely fantastic versions were put forward. The first one was an arson attack by enemy saboteurs who did their dirty work with the help of an unmanned aerial vehicle. However, this version got boring quite quickly, because the arsonists were not shown to the public – either with blurred out faces or from behind. Even Russian passports were not shown this time. Apparently, the Ukrainian border guards failed, allowing saboteurs to infiltrate Ukrainian land without documents, especially after a big Georgian breakthrough…
The next version sounds very exceptionally. The point is that the fire in the munition depot was organized to cover up all traces of theft and the sale of weapons. I think this version is perfectly understandable, especially since the ammunition depots in Ukraine burn at a high frequency: three cases of fire have been recorded in the last couple of years.
However, in my view, the most interesting explanation came from the Minister of Defence of Ukraine, Stepan Poltorak, who said that the fire was not a tragedy at all. On the contrary, it helped the state to save money for recycling of rubbish and scrap metal stored at the munition depot in Kalinovka. Judging from this statement, Mr. Poltorak learned some days ago that there was an ammunition depot in Vinnitsa (by the way, it is one of the largest arsenal of weapons in Ukraine, where such ‘trash’ as rockets to Smerch, Uragan and Grad rocket systems were stored). It seems that the Ukrainian Minister of Defence has very approximate information on the quantity and quality of ammunition stored in the munition depot and which was eventually destroyed by fire. Because the Minister’s data is very much at variance with what was said by a few open sources previously. He told the president that there were 83 thousand tons of ammunition, 15 of which were junk, and the local authorities reported about 188 thousand tons. Whatever the case, when alleged saboteurs are caught, the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine is simply obliged to declare them as heroes and award prizes for such good cause – recycling. Indeed, the Secretary of the Committee of the Verkhovna Rada on National Security, Ivan Winnick, has conservatively estimated that ʺthe state lost ammunition for a total of about 800 million dollars”.
I believe that all the versions, which have been put forward, have the right to exist with one qualification: Ukraine has enough its own saboteurs, who are ready to burn, detonate, steal or kill someone for their personal gain. It is therefore not worth blaming our northern neighbour for all the troubles. It is appalling that the tragedies, as a result of which ordinary Ukrainians suffer or, even worse, children die due to the negligence or corruption of the Ukrainian authorities, are taking place in this country under the leadership of Poroshenko more and more…
Vladimir Bidyovka, the DPR People’s Council deputy