“Hidden Crime”: the Russian strike on a Fake Ammo Depot Incurred Millions of Hryvnias in Losses
Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops, the Zolochiv District of the Lviv Region has been shelled several times. On the first day, the invaders targeted a military unit in Brody, then hit a traction substation of the Krasne railway station.
On Thursday, June 14, on a workday, explosions were heard in Zolochiv once again.
According to Maksym Kozytskyi, head of the Lviv Regional Military Administration, the enemy launched a cruise missile, probably a Kalibr, from the Black Sea. According to Kozytskyi, the missile was shot down by anti-air defense forces, and its debris fell on civilian infrastructure. The very next day, the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed having launched a strike with a Kalibr missile and reported the following: “High-precision long-range Kalibr missiles were used near the village of Zolochiv, Lviv Region, to destroy a warehouse of ammunition for foreign weapons transferred to Ukraine by NATO countries, including 155-mm M777 howitzers”.
This statement confirms that the Russian strike was deliberate, and may be evidence of another war crime because the “ammunition warehouse” in fact turned out to be a brick factory, the strike on which caused millions of hryvnias of damage to ordinary Ukrainian businessmen.
Fake Ammunition Depot
Yosyp Barabash, co-owner of the plant, laughed at the Russian statement. Barabash said he had no idea that his ordinary bricks were NATO ammunition. Barabash estimates the damage to the plant at 4 million hryvnias: “The shell hit the brick kiln. The roof is 100% destroyed, that’s 1,250 square meters. It caught fire from the shock wave, it was all blown to smithereens and scattered around. The administrative offices and garages beside it were also damaged”.
According to Barabash, more than 20 people were on the premises at the time.
“As soon as the alarm goes off, people quickly leave the premises. The director took people out and closed the gates. A driver came to load the bricks and was evacuated from there. We make sure that no one is in the area. Seven minutes after they left there was an explosion, after the air raid siren. None of our people were injured”. Barabash said.
Mykola Budzivula is the owner of a hotel-restaurant across the street from the brick plant. He, his wife, and two employees were at the premises at the time of the strike.
“That moment, when the explosion happened, is hard to convey with words. We were in the room on the side where the windows were blown out and splinters were flying. We got on the ground and we were very lucky that nobody was actually hit. But the damage was enormous. My car is an SUV. A paving stone fell on its roof after flying for 200 meters, now you can make a hatch in the SUV… This is a residential building. There are no threatening premises here. This is a crime,” says Budzivula.
A preliminary estimate by the businessman puts the damage to his hotel-restaurant at 1 million hryvnias.
After the Russian attack, the local college is now considering restoring classrooms in time for the start of the academic year. Two buildings of the educational institution, part of Lviv Polytechnic University, were destroyed simultaneously.
“We have a small foyer with no windows, no doors, a cul-de-sac room and we were there at the time of the missile strike,” says acting director Yury Bolyubash. “We work remotely. There weren’t many people in the building, about 10-15 people, and leaving the room was dangerous because there were pieces of brick and paving stones flying around. We heard the shattering of glass, as windows were blown out of the classrooms, and the building was shaking.”
Having calculated the material damage, the educational institution has found that a great deal of work needs to be done. A total of 39 wooden windows, 3 doors, and the roof of the first building were damaged, making it an emergency situation that requires major repairs. In the second building, 17 windows had their panes shattered, 9 windows’ frames were deformed, and 4 doors were broken. The walls and panels in the buildings are cracked. It will cost between 1,5-2 million hryvnias to repair the building. The college cannot afford this
The city council is still calculating the exact amount of damage. However, it could reach tens of millions of hryvnias, because a total of 26 residential buildings, three commercial establishments, and the same number of administrative buildings were damaged.
Six people were also injured by the Russian missile attack. Among them was a one-year-old boy. The victims, who were IDPs from the Kharkiv Region, sustained bruises and shrapnel wounds. Fortunately, no serious injuries were reported.
This article was produced by Bihus.Info as part of the program “Supporting Ukraine’s Regional Media in Times of War” with the financial support of the European Union and the Foreign Ministry of the Kingdom of Norway. The content is the sole responsibility of Bihus.Info and does not reflect the views of the European Union, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or the Institute for War and Peace Reporting.
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