Volnovakha bus attack

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Volnovakha bus attack
Part of the War in Donbass
Donetsk in Ukraine (claims hatched).svg
Location of Donetsk Oblast in Ukraine
Buhas checkpoint is located in Donetsk Oblast
Buhas checkpoint
Buhas checkpoint
Buhas checkpoint (Donetsk Oblast)
Location Donetsk–Mariupol road (H20) at Buhas, near Volnovakha
Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine[1]
Coordinates Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Date 13 January 2015
c. 14:30 EET (UTC+2)
Target Buhas checkpoint
Attack type
Rocket strike
Weapons MRL BM-21 Grad
Deaths 12[2]
Non-fatal injuries
Suspected perpetrators
Donetsk People's Republic (alleged)
Motive attack on fortified facilities

The Volnovakha bus attack was an attack on a highway checkpoint near the village of Buhas outside of the Volnovakha municipality in the Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on 13 January 2015. It resulted in the deaths of 12 passengers of an intercity bus and injuries to 18 others in the area. The attack was the largest single loss of life since the signing of the Minsk Protocol in September 2014, which attempted to halt the ongoing War in Donbass. The incident has been labeled an "act of terror" by both the Ukrainian authorities[3] as well as the rebels.[4]

Initially, separatists took responsibility for this incident, which they thought was a successful destruction of the Ukrainian roadblock. After the information about civilian bus hit the news, they denied having "even technical possibilities" to shell that area.[5] OSCE Special Monitoring Mission inspecting the place of incident assessed from its study of five craters that they were caused by "by rockets fired from a north-north-eastern direction".[6]

The checkpoint named "Buhas" is located on the H20 highway at the intersection with another road accessing the city of Volnovakha. Beside Buhas and Volnovakha, there also is a village of Blyzhnie.


Video from a tower camera near the checkpoint.
Video of explosion near the bus filmed on a car dashcam.[7][8]

On 13 January, a bus was carrying civilians moving northward to Donetsk from the village of Zlatoustivka (Zlatoustovka) and passing a small city of Volnovakha[9] on the Donetsk-Mariupol road (H20 highway). Approaching the zone controlled by the Donetsk People's Republic, the bus stopped at the checkpoint for passport control. Soon thereafter the checkpoint was fired upon with multiple hits on which landed next to the line of vehicles in which bus was located. Shrapnel from the round torn the bus through completely disabling, while killing and injuring several passengers. Ten people perished on site, while two more died soon after were brought to hospital of Volnovakha.[2]

Video from a tower camera near the checkpoint shows number of explosions just north of the checkpoint, while another video from a private car that was in the line at checkpoint shows an explosion right next to the road. At same time in internet started to circulate photos that the checkpoint could have been set with mines.

The Ukrainian government's official version states that pro-Russian militants tried to shell positions near the Buhas checkpoint, which is 35 kilometres (22 mi) from the city of Donetsk. Donetsk Prosecutor's Office reported that militants fired more than 40 shells on the highway despite knowing the fact that it had been used only by civilians.[10] An official of the Donetsk Interior Ministry, said "It was a direct hit on an intercity bus".[11]

According to the head of the main command center of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Bohdan Bondar, the attack was launched from the center of Dokuchaievsk (city surrounded by the Volnovakha Raion), which is less than 35 kilometres (22 mi) away, as a provocation. When the attack happened, "there were reporters of local and Russian TV channels… who came there to film how our troops will open a return fire at the center of the city". The Ukrainian military labelled the incident a "provocation." Despite this, Ukrainian forces did not return fire.[12]

Donetsk People's Republic denied any involvement and said that the attack might have been staged by Ukrainian army. Andrei Purgin, a Donetsk Republic party politician, said that "We don't have the capability to shell this checkpoint either from the side of Telmanove or Yelenivka. The Ukrainian side has to figure out what has happened deep in its territory. It's very far from the contact line". Denis Pushilin, another DPR leader said that nearest rebel artillery was 50 km away, too far to reach the attack site.[13] At the same time, the NewsFront published a video where some militant leader boasting about a successful attack on Hranitne from Telmanove. The attack on Hranitne resulted in death of a 2-year-old child.[14][15]

An OSCE report confirmed that a Grad rocket from north-nort-east[6] had struck the bus, and said that DPR forces, the Russian Armed Forces, and the Ukrainian Armed Forces would conduct a joint investigation into the incident.[16] Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko blamed the attack on separatist insurgents, and declared a day of national mourning.[17]


As a response to the terror attack, a copycat version of the Je Suis Charlie sign was held up in Kiev during a protest against the incident.

Ukraine Ukraine – President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko said the attack "chilled the heart", and blamed rebel forces for the attack. He said "These deaths are on the conscience of the DPR and LPR gangs and on those who stand behind them". Also the President compared events in Paris and Volnovakha and called the world to be united in the fight against terrorism.[18] Additionally, he posted on Facebook an image of a bullet-riddled bus above the caption "je suis Volnovakha" while others carried signs in peaceful protest.[19][20] At the same time Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine made a statement, where it stressed that the tragedy couldn't have been a coincidence, but was intentionally committed by the terrorist groups supported by the Russian Federation, and called the world to resolutely condemn this terrible terrorist act as well as all their crimes against humanity.[21] Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk and the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kyiv Patriarchate Patriarch Filaret in their statements called the international community to recognise DPR and LPR as terrorist organizations.[22][23] After that Verkhovna Rada asked for the same.[24] January 15 was declared as the Day of Mourning for the people murdered by terrorists.[25] State officials paid a tribute to the perished by a minute of silence.[26] On Sunday January 18, hundreds peacefully marched in Odessa and in Kyiv near Independence Square carrying Je Suis Volnovakha and Я Волноваха placards.[27][28][29][30][31][32]

Canada CanadaJohn Baird, Foreign Minister of Canada said, "The deadly attack against passengers on a bus in Eastern Ukraine is a reprehensible and unjustifiable act. The ongoing aggression by Russian-sponsored militants is in violation of the Minsk ceasefire agreements and must end immediately. This is one of the deadliest attacks against civilians since the signing of the ceasefire agreements and comes after an increased level of violence over recent days. On behalf of all Canadians, I offer my sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims of this attack. Together with our allies and partners, Canada will continue to stand by Ukraine in resisting Russian aggression".[33]

European Union European UnionEuropean External Action Service made a statement, in which expressed condolences to the families of those who died. They underlined the need for strict observation of the ceasefire. "A lasting ceasefire remains key to the success of the current efforts to reach a sustainable political solution, based on respect for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity".[34] On January 15 Members of the European Parliament strongly condemned Russia's "aggressive and expansionist policy" and "the acts of terrorism and criminal behaviour committed by the separatists and other irregular forces in Eastern Ukraine". They supported the policy of sanctions, which should stay in place until Russia changes its aggressive policy in Ukraine, respects the ceasefire, withdraws its troops, stops supporting separatists, exchanges all prisoners and restores Ukraine's control over its whole territory, including Crimea, and called to broaden the range of sanctions in the event of further Russian actions destabilising Ukraine. The European Parliament noted that since the Council lifted the arms embargo on Ukraine on 16 July, there are "no objections" to EU countries supplying defensive arms to Ukraine, and suggested that the EU consider helping Ukraine to enhance its defence capabilities. Also they asked the Commission to develop a communication strategy to counter the Russian propaganda campaign, paying attention to its "information war", the EU to deliver "more substantial technical assistance" to help Ukraine to implement reforms and to do more to help tackle its humanitarian crisis, including Crimea.[35]

United States United StatesState Department spokeswoman Marie Harf condemned the bus attack and intense fighting around the Donetsk international airport and said that these attacks were "just the latest egregious violations of the commitments made by the Russian-backed separatists".[36]

Albania AlbaniaAlbanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its deep sorrow on the tragic event of the attack, extended its deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims who were on the bus and hopes for the rapid healing of the wounded persons. The MFA also urged the parties involved in the conflict in Ukraine to refrain from new acts of violence, in order to avoid further escalation of the situation and to return to the negotiating table to find a peaceful solution, in full compliance with Minsk Protocol.[37]

France France – President of France François Hollande expressed condolences over the tragedy during a phone conversation with President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko.[38]

Germany Germany – Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel expressed condolences over the tragedy during a phone conversation with President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko.[38]

Latvia LatviaLatvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs conveyed its deepest condolences to the families of the victims and to the Ukrainian people over the rocket attack on a passenger bus. "This tragic event confirms again the urgency of reaching a sustainable political solution to the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, based on respect for Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity", the MFA underlined.[39]

OSCE logo.svg OSCE, Serbia Serbia – The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Serbia's Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić strongly condemned the incident, expressed condolences to the families of the victims and called on "all sides to immediately halt the use of force, exercise restraint, return to negotiating table and implementing both the letter and the spirit of the Minsk documents".[40]

Poland PolandMinistry of Foreign Affairs of Poland strongly condemned this attack on a passenger bus, sent the condolences to the loved ones of the victims, wished those injured a quick recovery. "Our thoughts go out to the Ukrainians on this day of national mourning", the MFA said. Also Poland called on all sides of the conflict to respect and implement the Minsk peace agreement, and to stop using and withdraw heavy weapons, in particular from the so-called buffer zone.[41]

Russia RussiaRussian Foreign Ministry's envoy for human rights, democracy and the supremacy of law Konstantin Dolgov said that shelling of a passenger bus in eastern Ukraine undermines efforts to reach a peace settlement of the Ukrainian crisis. "Kiev continues to blatantly violate human rights", he underlined. Moscow "demands an impartial investigation of this crime... and punishment of those responsible".[42] The Russian officials offered their condolences to the families and friends of the victims.[43]

United Kingdom United KingdomDavid Lidington, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, stated at his official Twitter account, "Strongly condemn attack at Volnovakha checkpoint. Tragic loss of life underlines need for genuine ceasefire in East Ukraine".[44]

United Nations United Nations – Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the shelling of a bus and called for the investigation and justice. He exhorted all sides to respect the ceasefire and return to the implementation of the Minsk agreements, which remain a solid base for resolving the conflict.[45] The UN Security Council also adopted a separate statement condemning the attack on a civilian vehicle.[46]

Belarus BelarusBelarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed their deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims. "This tragic incident once again proves the need for an immediate ceasefire as provided by the Minsk arrangements. We are calling for immediate resuming the work of the Trilateral Contact Group to make urgent decisions in order to resolve the situation in the region and prevent new victims on the territory of our brotherly nation", The Ministry stated.[47]

Finland Finland – President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö expressed his deep condolences to the Ukrainian people on the Day of Mourning during presentation of Ukraine's Ambassador to Finland A. Olefirov his Credentials to the President.[48]

Georgia (country) GeorgiaGeorgian Foreign Ministry expressed its concern over the death of innocent people caused by a missile in Volnovakha and conveyed its condolences to the families of the victims. "This tragedy provides a direct proof to how much importance needs to be attached to full compliance with the ceasefire agreement in order to avoid civilian casualties. The Georgian Foreign Ministry maintains that respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders, must be a fundamental principle upon which to base the political settlement of the conflict in East Ukraine", the Ministry stated.[49]

Republic of Ireland Ireland – Minister of State for European Affairs and Data Protection Dara Murphy condemned this dreadful terrorist attack and expressed his solidarity with Ukraine in the peace restoration process on its territory during his meeting with Ambassador of Ukraine to Ireland S. Reva.[50]

Lithuania Lithuania – President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė signed the book of condolences at the Ukrainian embassy in tribute to the victims of terrorism. On behalf of the Lithuanian people and on her own behalf, the President extended sincere condolences to the victims' families and all the people of Ukraine. "Lithuania supports Ukraine", the President wrote in the book of condolences.[51]


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External links