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)
LocationDonetsk–Mariupol road ( H 20) at Buhas, near Volnovakha
Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine[1]
Coordinates47°36′45.4″N 37°31′45.5″E / 47.612611°N 37.529306°E / 47.612611; 37.529306
Date13 January 2015
c. 14:30 EET (UTC+2)
TargetBuhas checkpoint
Attack type
Rocket strike
WeaponsMRL BM-21 Grad
PerpetratorsDonetsk People's Republic (per Ukraine)
Ukrainian Armed Forces (per Russia)
Motiveattack 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 "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 rockets landing next to the line of vehicles including the bus. Shrapnel from a round tore through and completely disabled the bus, while killing and injuring several passengers. Ten people perished on site, while two more died soon after being brought to the hospital of Volnovakha.[2]

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]

The 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. At the same time, NewsFront published a video of some militant leader boasting about a successful attack on Hranitne from Telmanove.[13] 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-northeast[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]

On 17 January 2017 Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs filed a suit with the International Court of Justice, accusing the Russian Federation of "acts of terrorism, discrimination, and unlawful aggression" against Ukraine. The attack on Volnovakha was cited by Ukraine as an example of Russia supporting illegal armed groups engaged in terrorist activities.[18]


As a response to the terror attack, a copycat version of the Je Suis Charlie sign was held up in Kyiv 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.[19] 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.[20][21] 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.[22] 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.[23][24] After that Verkhovna Rada asked for the same.[25] January 15 was declared as the Day of Mourning for the people murdered by terrorists.[26] State officials paid a tribute to the perished by a minute of silence.[27] On Sunday January 18, hundreds peacefully marched in Odessa and in Kyiv near Independence Square carrying Je Suis Volnovakha and Я Волноваха placards.[28][29][30][31][32]

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".[33] 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.[34]

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".[35] The Russian officials offered their condolences to the families and friends of the victims.[36]

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.[37]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ten killed, 13 injured after shell hits bus at roadblock near Volnovakha – regional administration". Interfax-Ukraine. 13 January 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Список погибших и раненых, пострадавших в результате террористического акта на пункте пропуска под г.Волновахой [List of dead and wounded victims as a result of the terrorist attack on the checkpoint in Volnovakha] (Press release) (in Russian). Interior Ministry of Ukraine in Donetsk Region. 14 January 2015. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  3. ^ Прокуратура расследует обстрел автобуса под Волновахой по статье "теракт" [The Office of Public Prosecutor is investigating the Volnovakha bus attack as an "act of terror"] (in Russian). Unian. 13 January 2016. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  4. ^ "В ДНР возбудили уголовное дело по факту обстрела автобуса под Волновахой" [Criminal investigation opened in the Donetsk Region into the attack on the bus in Volnovakha] (in Russian). Interfax. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  5. ^ "Did Separatists Boast of Attack on Checkpoint That Killed 10 Civilians Before Trying To Blame Ukraine?". The Interpreter Magazine. 13 January 2015. Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time)". OSCE. 17 January 2015. Archived from the original on 18 January 2015. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  7. ^ Full size video (Russian non-normative lexicon). YouTube
  8. ^ Same video zoomed and slowed. YouTube.
  9. ^ "Ukraine conflict: Shell hits bus 'killing 10' in Buhas". BBC. 13 January 2015.
  10. ^ "Прокуратура: Бойовики випустили по блокпосту під Волновахою 40 снарядів (in Ukrainian)". Українська Правда. 13 January 2015.
  11. ^ "Eleven Ukraine civilians killed when rocket hits bus". Yahoo News. 13 January 2015.
  12. ^ "Ukrainian military label shelling of passenger bus near Volnovakha as provocation". Interfax-Ukraine. 13 January 2015.
  13. ^ "Denis Pushilin: Shelled bus is a provocation of the Ukrainian side". NewsFront. 13 January 2015.
  14. ^ "Terrorists boast shelling of Hranitne which killed two-year-old girl". Censor.Net. 14 January 2015. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  15. ^ "Two year old girl perished in Hranitne village due to militants' shelling. Two people from the shelled bus died in hospital – Head of Donetsk police". Censor.Net. 13 January 2015. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  16. ^ "Spot report by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, 14 January 2015: 12 civilians killed and 17 wounded when a rocket exploded close to a civilian bus near Volnovakha" (Press release). Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. 14 January 2015. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  17. ^ "OSCE confirms Grad strike on east Ukraine bus and says insurgents will be included in investigation". Ukraine Today. 15 January 2015. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  18. ^ "Ukraine files suit against Russia in Hague court for 'aggression'". UPI.
  19. ^ "Address of the President of Ukraine". Press office of President. 13 January 2015.
  20. ^ Sam Sokol (15 January 2015). "Ukraine jumps on 'Je suis Charlie' bandwagon". Jerusalem Post.
  21. ^ "В Украине день траура по погибшим под Волновахой". BBC in Ukrainian. 15 January 2015.
  22. ^ "Statement of the MFA". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. 13 January 2015.
  23. ^ "Arseniy Yatsenyuk: The so-called DPR and LPR must be recognized by the entire international community as terrorist organizations". Department of Information and Communication of the Secretariat of the CMU. 14 January 2015.
  24. ^ "Stop terrorism!". Patriarch of Kyiv and All Rus-Ukraine Philaret. Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyiv Patriarchate. 13 January 2015.
  25. ^ "APPEAL To the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of The Council of Europe, National Parliaments of the EU Member States, The USA, Canada, Japan and Australia on the Mass Shooting of People Near the Town of Volnovakha in Ukraine". The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. 14 January 2015.
  26. ^ "January 15 is the Day of Mourning for the people murdered by terrorists". Press office of President. 14 January 2015.
  27. ^ Minute of Silence for Volnovakha Victims: Ukrainian MPs mourn 13 killed in insurgent bus attack. Ukraine Today (YouTube). 14 January 2015
  28. ^ Peter Leonard (18 January 2015). "Ukraine leader vows to retake separatist-held east". Associated Press. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  29. ^ "Порошенко на акції у Києві заявив про єдність українців". BBC in Ukrainian. 18 January 2015. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  30. ^ Dan Peleschuk (19 January 2015). "#JeSuis … Volnovakha?". GlobalPost. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  31. ^ "Ukrainians remember 13 killed in Volnovakha". EuroNews. 18 January 2015. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  32. ^ Alexander Levit (18 January 2015). "В Одессе прошла акция "Я – Волноваха" (фото)" ['I am Volnovakha' rally in Odessa]. Fakty i Kommentarii. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  33. ^ "Statement by the Spokesperson on the death of civilians in eastern Ukraine". European External Action Service. 13 January 2015.
  34. ^ "Ukraine: MEPs condemn terrorist acts and say sanctions against Russia must stay". European Parliament / News. 15 January 2015.
  35. ^ "Moscow resents shelling of passenger bus in Donbass – Russian diplomat". Russian News Agency "TASS". 14 January 2015.
  36. ^ Comment by the Information and Press Department on the bus tragedy in Ukraine. Russian embassy in Washington, DC.
  37. ^ "Statement of Foreign Ministry in connection with tragic death of civilians as a result of bus blast at checkpoint near Volnovakha". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus. 15 January 2015.

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