The situation in east Ukraine continues to deteriorate. This week, a shell exploded near a civilian bus near Volnovakha, 37 miles from Donetsk, which left eleven people dead and thirteen injured. A video posted to YouTube [WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT] shows dead bodies in the bus. Screenshots show pools of blood on the ground.
Donetsk is the heart of east Ukraine. The pro-Russians seized control of the important industrial city in 2014 after parliament ousted pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych. It is a site of constant shelling as Kiev attempts to recapture the city. The bus carried blameless residents from Donetsk to Zlatoustivka, 52 miles south of the city.
The Interpreter reported that pro-Russian elements boasted about the attack, but quickly backtracked when officials released the body count.
After that, the rebels blamed Kiev. Deputy commander of the Dontesk People’s Republic (DNR) Eduard Basurin said “his forces had not fired.” Speaker of the DNR Andrei Purgin claimed the fighters “could not have carried out the attacks as their nearest artillery was in Telmanovo, north of Novoazovsk and that Volnovakha was beyond their range.” Bohdan Bondar, head of the main command center of the Ukrainian army, called the attack “a provocation” and the army is “currently taking other steps to stabilize the situation.” The Ukrainian media also published a photo to prove the rebels hit the bus.
President Petro Poroshenko addressed Ukraine on Tuesday night. As the Interpretor points out, Poroshenko might “restart the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) and launch a counter-offensive.”
Then-interim President Oleksandr Turchynov formed the ATO in April to take back the east. It ended on September 1 when Kiev and the pro-Russians, with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), met in Minsk, Belarus and agreed on a de-escalation plan. European Parliament President Martin Schultz allegedly told Poroshenko the EU will discuss listing DNR and Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) as terrorist organizations.
“Today I spoke with the President of the European Parliament Martin Shultz, who informed me that on Thursday the European Parliament will call on European Union leaders to add the so called ‘Donetsk People’s Repblic [sic]’ and ‘Luhansk Peple’s Republic’ to its list of terrorist organizations,” said Poroshenko. “This would be an appropriate international response to the actions of the insurgents, who do not want peace in the Donbas, who refuse to meet the terms of the Minsk agreement, who do not adhere to the ceasefire and who attack our army and kill innocent Ukrainian civilians.”
Before the bus was attacked, the rebels continued to fire on the Ukrainian military at the Donetsk airport. The military controls the airport, but the rebels have fought to capture it for months. It is a strategic site for both sides, but since the airport is almost completely destroyed, “it has become a symbol of pride for both sides.” The rebels told Kiev to leave the airport by 5PM local time or die. After 5PM passed, the rebels shot down the air traffic control tower.
“Today the tower collapsed from the top floor down to the fourth floor,” reported Vladyslav Selezniov, a Ukrainian military spokesman.