Ukraine: Artillery Fire, Not ‘Tactical Nuke’ Attack, Triggers Large Donetsk Explosion
Ukraine: Artillery Fire, Not ‘Tactical Nuke’ Attack, Triggers Large Donetsk Explosion

On Sunday night, a series of YouTube videos appear to show a large  explosion in Donetsk, Ukraine (several can be watched here). However, it wasn’t a “tactical nuclear weapon,” as some social media users claimed, but just a big blast. 

UPDATE on Monday: Russian state broadcaster RT.com reported that it was a chemical plant explosion. A spokesperson with Ukraine’s anti-terror operations said the blast was caused by a “dropped cigarette butt.” 

“The center of the blast was near DKZHI,” co-chairman of the anti-Kiev People’s Front Konstantin Dolgov said, via RT. According to the broadcaster, “The factory is known for producing chemical products used for industrial explosives, ammunition and equipment artillery bombs. This is not the first time the plant has been the target of a Kiev attack. It was also hit with artillery rockets in September and November.” 

Videos that were uploaded Feb. 8 show a massive explosion going off in the distance, with an orange-red fireball lighting up the night sky. 

  

While many details remain unclear, preliminary reports say it was a an artillery attack on a weapons depot owned by the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic. According to Ukrainian news site TSN.ua, right-wing politician Dmitry Yarosh said the blast killed about  “200 terrorists,” destroyed 20 Grad rockets, and blew up trucks filled with ammunition. 

 

Here’s what appears to be another vantage point of the explosion:

Here’s another one:

And another:

A deputy commander with the Donetsk People’s Republic told NahNews.ua that it was likely a missile that caused the blast, but he didn’t rule out the possibility of a factory explosion.

“There was a mushroom cloud over Donetsk,” one of the rebels told Ukrainian news website ZN.ua, adding that “dozens of homes were left without windows.” A mushroom cloud can be produced by conventional explosives and even volcanic eruptions–not just nuclear bombs.

Ukraine-based Euromaidan PR, a citizen-journalist news website, posted several Twitter updates about the explosion, also saying the Ukrainian army launched the attack on a rebel-held site.  Locals could reportedly hear the blast for miles.

Some said they saw the “mushroom cloud” near the Donetsk railway station, and one said many houses were shaking “like an earthquake,” reported Ukrinform.ua. People in Makeyevka and Avdeyevka said they could hear the explosion.

Another video screenshot shows the blast (YouTube/Screenshot)
Another video screenshot shows the blast (YouTube/Screenshot)

 

Another video screenshot shows the blast (YouTube/Screenshot)
Another video screenshot shows the blast (YouTube/Screenshot)

 

A black-and-white video shows the blast. (YouTube/screenshot)
A black-and-white video shows the blast. (YouTube/screenshot)

 

 

Meanwhile, Russian-backed separatists have gained ground in eastern Ukraine, while efforts to broker peace appeared to gain momentum Sunday, with leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine announcing plans for four-way talks this week.

The proposed meeting Wednesday in the Belarusian capital of Minsk emerged from a phone call between German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. While senior diplomats from the four countries meet in Berlin to prepare for the summit, Merkel is expected to brief U.S. officials in Washington on Monday during a previously scheduled trip.

“It’s a fortuitous coincidence that Merkel is going to Washington and whatever she does, Obama will be informed,” said Volker Perthes, director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. The threat of U.S. arms shipments won’t harm the talks, he added, although “if the diplomatic efforts fail then the option to ship arms becomes more likely.”

With The Associated Press.

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