Whose sab­o­tage?

Kyiv Post - - Opinion -

To lose one am­mu­ni­tion de­pot may be re­garded as a mis­for­tune. To lose two looks like care­less­ness. To lose seven to fires fol­lowed by cat­a­strophic ex­plo­sions over the last 14 years, as Ukraine has done, looks like height of neg­li­gence and in­com­pe­tence.

The lat­est tragedy struck the mil­i­tary am­mu­ni­tion de­pot at Vin­nyt­sya Oblast’s Ka­lynivka, 238 kilo­me­ters south­west of Kyiv. It caught fire and was hit with a se­ries of mas­sive blasts from the det­o­na­tion of shells and rock­ets on Sept. 26.

The Se­cu­rity Ser­vice of Ukraine, or SBU, was quick to qual­ify the incident as an act of sab­o­tage.

Al­though the SBU of­fered no ev­i­dence to back up its claim, sab­o­tage is a pos­si­bil­ity, of course, given Rus­sia’s on­go­ing war against Ukraine since 2014. Since the start of the Krem­lin’s war, there have been four cases of fires and ex­plo­sions at large am­mu­ni­tion de­pots. Three of those oc­curred in the last six months alone.

But when look­ing at these in­ci­dents in the con­text of Ukraine’s pre­vi­ous am­mu­ni­tion de­pot dis­as­ters, the ones that oc­curred in peace­time, there are other ex­pla­na­tions than Rus­sian sab­o­tage units.

The blasts at Bakhmut back in 2003 were caused by sparks from a weld­ing torch that sol­diers were us­ing to cut up scrap metal for sale. There were four in­ci­dents at Novobo­hdanivka in Za­por­izhzhya Oblast, ev­ery year from 2004 to 2007, caused by hot weather set­ting off a smoke grenade, the in­cor­rect han­dling of dam­aged am­mu­ni­tion and ac­ci­den­tal fires caused by smok­ing in the de­pot. The ex­plo­sions at the de­pot in Lo­zova, in 2008, were caused by an ac­ci­den­tal fire in a ware­house that set off am­mu­ni­tion stored nearby. The com­man­der and deputy com­man­der of the de­pot were jailed for neg­li­gence, though soon freed.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the blasts at Ka­lynivka is just start­ing. It may turn out that Rus­sian or other sab­o­tage is to blame, but self-sab­o­tage — through lax­ity and ne­glect — is also a pos­si­bil­ity given the his­tory of such in­ci­dents. With Ukraine now into its fourth year of war and still un­able to pro­duce any am­mu­ni­tion by it­self, the coun­try can­not af­ford to al­low more such in­ci­dents to oc­cur.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ukraine

© PressReader. All rights reserved.