Sunday, September 21, 2014


Ukraine Unspun

Despite Denials, All Evidence For Deadly Explosion Points To Kyiv

Firefighters arrive at the state administration building after the explosion in Luhansk on June 2.
Firefighters arrive at the state administration building after the explosion in Luhansk on June 2.
On June 2 an explosion ripped through the Luhansk state administration building.

Before anyone knew what had happened, graphic video from the scene began to appear online. A dazed woman with her legs blown off and seemingly near death stared blankly into a camera amid rubble and lifeless bodies.

Just as soon, rumors began to spread about what had taken place.

As is happening more and more frequently, both the pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian sides were quick to latch onto stories that fit comfortably into their narrative of events on the ground.

Separatist supporters reported almost immediately that the attack came from a Ukrainian fighter jet.

From Ukrainian officials, the denials were swift. "The most likely cause of the explosion was careless and inept handling of small arms and explosives," Oleksandr Dmytrashevskyy, a Ukrainian military spokesman, told RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service.

Andriy Senchenko, deputy chief of staff for acting President Oleksandr Turchynov, declared that a heat-seeking missile fired by pro-Russian separatists had mistakenly targeted an air-conditioning unit on the fourth floor of the administration building.

Video from the scene showed a blown-out fourth-floor window with billowing smoke:
Luhansk Explosion Leaves Casualties, Damagei
X
June 02, 2014
Video from the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk shows men trying to move a body amid scattered debris outside the damaged regional administration building after an explosion there. The administration building is under the control of the leaders of the separatist self-proclaimed "Luhansk People's Republic." The footage was provided to Reuters by ANNA News.

Pro-Ukrainian supporters were quick to run with the story:

Despite the Ukrainian denials, the evidence from observers and journalists on the ground overwhelmingly points to a strike from a Ukrainian aircraft.

A June 3 report from the special monitoring mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said: 
 
"Based on the SMM's limited observation these strikes were the result of non-guided rockets shot from an aircraft. The number of casualties is unknown."

The OSCE did not immediately reply to a request for further information.

A CNN investigation found "clear evidence" that the detonations came from the air:
 
"But a CNN investigation in Luhansk has found clear evidence that whatever detonations hit the building and the adjoining park came from the air. The tops of trees were splintered, and a series of small craters -- about a dozen -- had been blasted in a straight line, starting in the park and reaching the walls of the building, blowing out many of its windows and spraying the area with jagged shrapnel. That's what appears to have killed most of the victims and injured 20 more.

"The pattern of the craters clearly indicated some sort of strafing, according to a munitions expert at the scene with CNN. Their size suggested 30-millimeter ordnance, he said, which is standard equipment on the Su-25, a ground-attack fighter, and the Su-27 -- both combat aircraft operated by Ukraine."

Anna Nemtsova, a reporter for the "Daily Beast," tweeted this from the scene on June 3:

In a dispatch from the scene, Nemtsova also reported seeing 21 craters.

The Ukrainian military -- which has been in a pitched battle for two days against separatists who launched an attack on a border outpost in the region -- has used fighter jets to support its mission in Luhansk.

But it still has not claimed responsibility for the attack on the state administration building, where reports say eight unarmed civilians died.

And the dissembling has become a useful propaganda tool for the Russian side, while apparently hardening public opinion in Luhansk.

A photo making the rounds on Twitter, along with horrific images from the scene, shows the second World Trade Center building being hit on 9/11. The caption says, "air conditioner explosion."

Alex Luhn, a "Guardian" reporter, posted this image of Ukraine's president-elect, who met with U.S. President Obama on June 4 and is due to be sworn in on June 7:

And on a nationally televised Russian talk show hosted by Arkady Mamontov -- a well-known host who has provided a steady stream of sensationalist propaganda about  Ukraine -- commentators said the actions proved the separatists were the last defense against "fascism and American aggression."

All this raises a more troubling question for Kyiv. As it ramps up its offensive against pro-Russian separatists, there are likely to be more civilian casualties -- particularly as air power plays a greater role. If it accepts this, is it also prepared to talk honestly about the consequences of war?

-- Glenn Kates
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Tom Warner
June 04, 2014 20:44
This report is completely wrong. This video explains why: http://youtu.be/aJUIkwe6PF4

by: Baldur Dasche from: Canada
June 05, 2014 00:05
Wowser ..radio Free Europe!!!

Egad! This is the first piece I've read in the 'free and democratic' western media - particularly that funded by the USA - that hasn't simply echoed the lunacy vomited out of Kyiv. I imagine the air conditioner excuse was just too glib?

Objectivity, at least, would be a refreshing change.
In Response

by: Fg from: Ded
June 05, 2014 22:32
Objectivity? What about the traffic cam video from that day showing the blast from the park and the impact in the building? This was clearly an ROG shot feom the ground by terroristd
In Response

by: Baldur from: canada
June 08, 2014 14:19
Clean your glasses and look again - there are no RPG rounds with a multiple impact footprint like that.

You may recall the Kyiv people claimed it was a 'manpad' (again no multiple warhead) that 'homed' on a hot air conditioner instead of the strike fighter at which it was it fired (they are supposed to 'lock on' before they will fire).

Man up and admit somebody killed civilians .. by mistake of course. Wouldn't want to deal with any of Porochenko' s "bloody hands"

by: Tom Warner
June 05, 2014 00:20
One additional point not covered in my video: the claim by CNN that the many small craters are lined up in a row across the park leading towards the admin building is not true.

There were only two craters in such a row, one near the felled tree and one in the street. Both were clearly caused by the explosion visible in the roof camera footage - indeed you can directly see the impact that caused the street crater as the big fireball flew from the part towards the building.

The other craters are in a rough row but are along a path diagonal path within the park that leads from the center of the park towards the building with the roof camera on it, not towards the admin building. Those craters do not look like strafing hits to me, they look like impacts from shrapnel or debris that blew back from the main impact near the felled tree. The debris included chunks of sidewalk pavement, some of which can be seen in the roof camera footage flying in the same direction those craters lay from the impact site, but even farther.

I understand that after Russia and the separatists have been caught in so many lies that it seems fair to point out one story where some usually credible people are believing them. But it was a mistake. This airstrike story is another lie just like all the others.
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
June 05, 2014 11:36
Ukraine is very careful not to have among civilian and even among insurgents dead and wounded, if possible.
I do not know how sophisticated their air-force, it could be human error or semi-automatic lock-up on the window, if
from that point anti-air rockets were fired at the plane.

Terrorists are desperados, some might believe that Ukrainians
will come with vengeance, some see opportunity to die fighting, some committed crimes against humanity,
kidnapping, torturing and murdering Ukrainians, however,
most of all they want Russia and them be masters over
people they occupy as mobsters. Their commanders have
direct orders from Russia, forever it might be at present.
It is more possible that terrorists themselves at fault,
whether inside the room or in neighborhood.
In any case they would use it for propaganda,
The first video I saw was staged that way:
________________________________________________
On first video I saw, they showed victims brought down from
the blown room. It were two women staged as civilians, but
one of them had swallowed legs in the middle, like from impact
on the level of knees, or on level of air-conditioner, which was pushed from inside-out.
Also under the window on the street result of inside-out blow.
Some holes in walls and windows likely from gunfire.
Junk exhibited here is likely from air-conditioner.
Only cameraman leading guide was pretending be angry,
blaming somebody.
A man came in mask, emotionally talking with heavy Caucasian accent, but the guiding one told him shot-up
in derogatory tone – was the Caucasian guilty in the accident?
But he kept talking to the wounded women, almost crying.
Looks like it were not "Civilians" there, but being in the same
room comrades.
________________________________________________
On another hand, Ukrainian government would talk to Russia,
but Russia football them to terrorists that killing Ukrainians
and are not going to talk.
Putin, enough killings!
Take your insurgents back through official talking with Ukraine
and prevent unnecessary death, let them go back home, except some that Ukraine might want for crimes against humanity.

by: William from: Brussels
June 05, 2014 07:48
I find the video mentioned by Tom Warner rather convincing (http://youtu.be/aJUIkwe6PF4).

OSCE should be obliged to seriousdly analyse what really happened before making unfounded accusatory statements. Perhaps RFE/RL reporting could advance things a little?

by: Jaycey from: Zapororzhzhye,Ukraine
June 05, 2014 09:36
So what’s all the fuss about even if it was an air attack on an enemy HQ? Terrorists are using anti-aircraft and anti-tank weaponry and have invaded our country. It’s war pure and simple.

I frankly don’t care if these Russian b*** are killed with missiles or bayonets, just as long as they are killed.
1
In Response

by: soren from: United States
June 06, 2014 03:27
"So what’s all the fuss about even if it was an air attack on an enemy HQ?"

1. The fuss is that Kiev is blaming the rebels for a misfired rocket when it's obvious to everyone that looks that it was the SU-25 that fired on the building.
2. There was a DDOS attack on the OCSE website when they made the same conclusion.
3. The people that died were civilians and extremely low level people...
4. Watch the video of Inna Kukuruza with he legs separated from her body desperately ask for a phone... she passes out and later dies in an ambulance.

by: george from: UK
June 05, 2014 21:18
The OSCE commented prematurely without proper analysis of the event as have many others. This site analyses and explains the position of the aircraft, buildings, park, angles etc. others with the video and a map can do the same. phttp://ukraineinvestigation.com/ukrainian-plane-attack-state-administration-luhansk/

by: Ivan from: US
June 05, 2014 22:34
Seriously?! An air strike that left window frames intact?!
Guardian used the word Genocide right away didn't they? What do they call Russian and pro-Russian terrorists operating from behind the back of civilians? Genocide of what People? Does Guardian even know the meaning of the word? Putin shills

by: John from: Canada
June 05, 2014 23:04
No matter who was responsible, it was a tragedy to kill civilians and no doubt that this bloody incident won't help cause of Ukraine unification. However, the building was a legitimate target if it was Ukraine missiles that hit it and civilians should not have been near it.

As for the weight of evidence, OSCE's SMM statement was clearly based on "limited observation". Its not a confirmation. CNN's "military expert" is based in Luhansk and feels free to talk to Western media. Is that an unbiased source?

Nevertheless, assuming it was Ukrainian missile, it is a civil war and those terrible things happen. Nobody wants a repeat of Grozny but thats what seems to be the comparison made. Yes, Putin was effective in stamping out terrorism with the Grozny destruction - but ECHR court cases are still rolling through from such incidents.

If it was Ukraine, man-up, apologize, try to do better. But important not to let this incident overshadow the role of the terrorists who are skilled at manipulating media - and have huge help from Russia.

Now lets see what they do with the claims of execution of captured Ukrainians ordered by a terrorist leader:
http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/d0802ce8-ecd1-11e3-8963-00144feabdc0.html#axzz33oCohmuL

by: baldur dasche from: canada
June 08, 2014 14:12
Russia should announce a 'no-fly zone' over the Donetsk and Lugansk regions until all Ukrainian forces, regular and irregular, are withdrawn. The air-war is targeting civilians.

by: june fitzgerald from: nyc, us
June 08, 2014 14:22
Poroshenko only got 9 million of 36 million eligile voters + 25% and did not meet the required voter turnout threshold and is illegitimate. He has been imitating Hitler's Blitzkreig bombing attacks (London Blitz) to terrorize the opposition, then encircle them and kill them.
He should be replaced and charged with war crimes against his own people.

About #UkraineUnspun

The information war is in full swing in the tense standoff between Ukraine and Russia. In an attempt to present a clearer picture, #UkraineUnspun will unravel information coming from Russian and Ukrainian media, politicians and activists. Written by Glenn Kates and contributors from RFE/RL.

Follow the hashtag #UkraineUnspun on Twitter and let us know what we should be covering -- or to weigh in on any of our stories. Or write us at webteam@rferl.org