Shelling of the administration of the "DPR" in the center of Donetsk: why the Armed Forces could not do it, the reasons for the shelling

The Molfar team conducted an investigation into the shelling of the administration of the so-called "DPR", which took place on August 23, 2022. We proved that the Armed Forces of Ukraine could not fire at Donetsk – this is indicated by the nature of the destruction, the absence of casualties among the military and the administration, the precision of the damage, and the probable launch positions of the projectiles, which were reconstructed with the help of trajectory analysis. 

We also proved that the military correspondents of the DPR and the Russian Federation, including the local Donetsk media, spread equally false information about the number of shots/explosions, the location of the attack (launch of the artillery salvo) and the weapon that was allegedly used to hit the target. 

Why do the "DPR" fire at themselves? 

Based on the evidence of the investigation, which is given in the blocks below, it becomes clear why the Armed Forces of Ukraine technically could not organize such an attack. If it was not the Armed Forces that did it, then it is logical to assume that the attack on the administration and two civilian objects near it was organized by the military of the "DPR" independently or in cooperation with the military of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. 

Why are the occupiers and collaborators shelling their own positions, especially administrative buildings? Based on the terrorist tactics of the Russian occupying mercenaries, we can make three assumptions. 

1. Justification of similar strikes on "decision-making centers" in Ukraine 

The occupiers have repeatedly (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) threatened Ukrainians with strikes on "decision-making centers". The occupiers called administrative buildings, government offices, military administration buildings, and even the US embassy in Kyiv such "centers". Threats to hit the "decision-making centers" (DMC) from the Russian side intensify every time after successful operations of the Armed Forces on the fronts of Ukraine. 

Despite the threats, the occupiers did not succeed in attacking the DMC in Ukraine, because they are all located in Kyiv under the reliable protection of air defense forces and automatic anti-missile systems. 

Each new attack on Kyiv is quite likely to be the same attack on the DMC threatened by the occupiers. Probably, by shelling the administrative building in Donetsk, the occupying forces want to justify the upcoming terrorist attack, which they are going to carry out by means of a massive rocket attack on the government quarters of Kyiv. Due to the inability of the Russian troops to wage war in accordance with the norms of international law, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation resorts to barbaric terrorist attacks with a large number of victims among the civilian population. The purpose of the shelling is to intimidate the population and demoralize the armed forces.

2. Demonization of the Armed Forces and the discreditation of the military command of Ukraine

Simultaneously with the shelling of the administrative building in the center of Donetsk, two other objects were hit – the Hotel "Central" and the household building "Kalmius" (both commercial, non-military objects). Since the Armed Forces conduct military activities exclusively according to the rules of warfare and norms of international law, avoiding strikes on civilian objects and casualties among the civilian population, one of the tasks of the occupiers was to discredit the Armed Forces of Ukraine. 

Strict compliance with the norms and customs of warfare is the main and only requirement for the further supply of weapons from Western partners. Probably, one of the reasons for the "operation under a foreign flag" is the compromising of the Armed Forces in order to sow doubts among the Western allies regarding the provision of further military assistance to Ukraine. In general, all fake accusations of the Russian Federation have approximately this goal. The more fake accusations Russia makes, the better they will succeed in making themselves non responsible for war crimes in the eyes of the citizens of Russia and possibly other countries through propaganda.

3. Creation of a reason for the Russian Federation to officially provide military aid to the terrorist forces of the "DPR" 

The so-called leader of the "DPR" quasi-formation, Denis Pushylin, has already asked the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, to provide military assistance, to include the Donetsk region of Ukraine in the Russian Federation, and to recognize independence "DPR" with subsequent signing of acts of state cooperation. 

Since  any actions of the occupation administration have no force from the point of view of international law, the terrorist group "DPR" has to imitate the hopeless situation and injustice of the "Kyiv authorities" in order to be able to officially request help from Russia. Probably, the attack on the administrative building was created for a propaganda picture in order to justify the transfer of a new tranche of military aid from the Russian Federation to the DPR. The propaganda picture is needed not so much for the world community, which sees the truth behind fake statements, as for reassuring the masses of the people of the Russian Federation. "Protection of the Russian-speaking population" and "military aid to those suffering from the Kyiv regime" are popular narratives of the Kremlin, with the help of which the Russian authorities continue to use the territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions as a springboard for waging an aggressive war in Ukraine. 

Chronology of events

11:46 – TG-channel of the State of Emergency Donetsk Z published the message "The city center is under fire."

11:56 – The Donetsk News Agency (DAN) published news that the Ukrainian army shelled the Voroshilovsky district of Donetsk "with 10 shells of 155 mm caliber (NATO standard), the strike was made from the side of the occupied village of Orlivka". Orlivka is controlled by the Armed Forces of Ukraine and is located ~22 km from the Administration on Blvd. Pushkina, 7. The firing range of M777 howitzers with conventional projectiles is 24.7 km.

12:30 – DAN published news that "the building of the Administration of the Head of the DPR in the center of the capital was attacked by Ukrainian militants today." The correspondent of the "edition" reported that the projectiles hit the facade, the right wing and the upper floor were also damaged, and a fire started. "Broken bricks, parts of cladding and metal structures are scattered everywhere in the district, from 4 to 6 shells "flew" in this area. At the same time, the article states that "this is reported by the DAN correspondent from the scene of the events." DAN said that the Joint Center for Control and Coordination of Ceasefire Issues and Stabilization of the Line of Demarcation of the Parties reported an attack from the village of Orlivka, located northwest of Avdiivka.

13:22 – In its TG-channel, DAN announced that the SCKK found fragments from the American HIMARS , range of which was 80 km.

14:46News under the heading "the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the DPR assessed the shelling of the Voroshilov district of Donetsk as terrible", which states that the shelling lasted for about an hour, " about two dozen shells, including 155 mm caliber (NATO standard), as well as the HIMARS (277 mm) MLRS. The building of the Administration of the Head of the DPR, a number of residential, commercial and administrative facilities along a number of streets were damaged. There are 3 dead and at least 6 wounded civilians."

15:08 – A local journalist published a report according to which 5 HIMARS missiles hit the first floor of the administrative building and the 7th floor was completely destroyed, however, according to the journalist, no one was injured. According to the interview of an employee who was on the first floor at the time of the shooting, he hid behind the wall, so he was not injured.

15:13 – DAN's news article talks about new shelling by Kyiv of the western part of Donetsk: shelling of the Kirovsky district of Donetsk at 2:04 p.m. and 2:38 p.m. from Krasnohorivka, 8 shells were fired. Krasnohorivka is located ~13 km from Kirovsky District and ~21 km from the Administration of the DPR. According to the DeepState, Krasnohorivka is under the control of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, but the neighboring city of Staromykhailivka is already controlled by the DPR, shelling of Donetsk could be carried out from Staromykhailivka (~17 km to the Administration) or Lozovoy (~13 km to the Administration).

Chronological conclusions:

  • there are no confirmed data on the actual number of shells fired and the duration of the shelling, according to various reports, the shelling was fired with 5-20 shells;
  • there is no confirmed data on the type of weapons used for firing, according to various reports, HIMARS were allegedly used, as well as 155 mm shells;
  • projectile fragments found at the scene cannot be used to identify the type of weapon;
  • statements about the shelling were provided either by the DPR media or by propagandistic Russian media;
  • the specified "launch sites of the Armed Forces of Ukraine" technically could not be used for shelling, read about this in detail in the next section.

Fact-checking of the rocket-bomb attack on the administration building in the center of Donetsk on August 23

According to media reports, during the shelling on August 23, 2022, three buildings suffered the greatest destruction: 

  • the building of the military administration "DPR";
  • the building of the "Central" hotel;
  • "Kalmius" household building.

Moreover, the first two buildings were attacked from the southwest and south (shown by red arrows and lines), and the last – from the north and east. Based on the nature of the destruction of the household building, it can be seen that there were several shellings, and that at least one of them came from the east (the occupied territory of Ukraine since 2014), probably from Makiivka. Earlier, on August 6, there were already reports of shelling of Donetsk from Makiivka.

The sides of the buildings that were damaged during the shelling 08/23/2022

Change of information about the direction of the shelling of the administration

At 11:56 DAN published the news that the blow was inflicted from the side of the village of Orlivka, which is located in the northwest direction from Donetsk. 

The place from which the buildings were fired upon according to the version of the military "DPR" and propagandists

However, the trajectory of the shot from Orlivka does not coincide with the damage received by the building. The southern part of the building was the most damaged, so the trajectory of the shelling could be southwest – from the occupied territories:

Sides of the administrative building that suffered the most damage during the shelling 08/23/2022
Probable directions of shelling that could cause the destruction that the administrative building suffered
Probable directions of shelling that could to cause the destruction suffered by the administrative building

Shelling of a household building

At 16:19 TG, the public published a photo of the damage to the "Kalmirus" household building in Donetsk, which is also located in the East, closer to the border with the Russian Federation. 

Location of the "Kalmius" household building

Based on the photographs obtained after the shelling, it can be seen that the northern and eastern sides of the household building (marked with a green rectangle) were destroyed. Since the destruction of different buildings from different sides, it means that on 23.08 shells were fired at Donetsk from at least two sides. If all the projectiles had flown from the eastern side, from the side of Ukraine, only the western part of the building (marked with a red rectangle) would have been destroyed. 

The side of the building that was actually destroyed is marked with a green rectangle

Conclusions, additional proofs and photos

Based on the available evidence, it can be stated that the Armed Forces of Ukraine could not carry out such a shelling purely from a technical point of view. The shelling was carried out from the occupied territory of Ukraine – this is evidenced primarily by the nature of the destruction of buildings. It is also possible to testify that there were several shellings, and that at least one of them came from the east (the occupied territory of Ukraine since 2014). The buildings were fired upon by the occupying forces of the Russian Federation, or by militants of the terrorist group "DPR" – with the aim of achieving certain military and political goals, which we talked about at the very beginning of the article. 

Also, based on the nature of the destruction of the buildings they suffered as a result of the shelling, a preliminary conclusion can be drawn about the type of weapons used: they were probably not HIMARS missiles or 155 mm caliber shells – their destructive power is much greater. 

You can get the full text of the investigation with additional evidence, links to evidence and photos of the destruction at this link.

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