When a building in Luhansk was hit on June 2, the pro-Russians claimed the Ukrainian government hit it with an airstrike, while the Ukrainian side said it happened inside the building. But evidence is pointing in favor of the pro-Russians.
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.
This might just be the evidence Russian President Vladimir Putin needs to validate a possible invasion of Ukraine. Putin’s main excuse for intervening in Crimea was to protect the ethnic Russians and Russian-speakers. Russia even passed a law that allows Moscow to intervene in any country if they feel Russians are being threatened. The People’s Republic of Luhansk’s Prime Minister Vasily Nikitin told CNN the region asked Russia to send the peacekeepers and hoped this attack would force Putin to act now. The region, along with Donetsk, declared itself independent after a May 11 referendum. The regions claim that over 90% of the residents voted in favor of independence, even though the referendum was filled with numerous voting violations.
On May 25, Ukraine held a presidential election, which Petro Poroshenko won with more than 50% of the vote. However, the majority of the residents in Luhansk and Donetsk were not allowed to vote due to intimidation by the pro-Russians. Poroshenko vowed to continue the anti-terrorist operation to end any separation in the east.