Volnovakha bus attack

Last updated

Volnovakha bus attack
Part of the War in Donbass
Donetsk in Ukraine (claims hatched).svg
Location of Donetsk Oblast in Ukraine
Donetsk Oblast location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Buhas checkpoint
Buhas checkpoint (Donetsk Oblast)
LocationDonetsk–Mariupol road (N-road-20-Ukraine.svg H 20) at Buhas, near Volnovakha
Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine [1]
Coordinates 47°36′45.4″N37°31′45.5″E / 47.612611°N 37.529306°E / 47.612611; 37.529306 Coordinates: 47°36′45.4″N37°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
Weapons MRL BM-21 Grad
Deaths12 [2]
Injured18 [2]
Perpetrators Donetsk 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 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 in 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 at the highway despite knowing the fact that it had been used only by civilians. [10] An official of the Donetsk Oblast 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 would return fire on 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[ clarification needed ] 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. Je suis Volnovakha.jpg
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.

Flag of Ukraine.svg 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". He compared the Charlie Hebdo shooting with events in Volnovakha and called the world to unite 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 stressing 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 Odesa and in Kyiv near Independence Square carrying Je Suis Volnovakha and Я Волноваха placards. [28] [29] [30] [31] [32]

Flag of Europe.svg European Union European 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]

Flag of Russia.svg 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. "Kyiv 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]

Flag of Belarus.svg 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

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Volnovakha</span> City in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine

Volnovakha is a town in Ukraine. It served as the administrative center of Volnovakha Raion, one of the 18 districts of the Donetsk Oblast. Before the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, the population of the town was 21,166 of several ethnicities.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Donetsk People's Republic</span> Disputed Russian republic in eastern Ukraine

The Donetsk People's Republic is an unrecognised republic of Russia in the occupied parts of eastern Ukraine's Donetsk Oblast, with its capital in Donetsk. The DPR was created by Russian-backed paramilitaries in 2014, and it initially operated as a breakaway state until it was annexed by Russia in 2022.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">War in Donbas (2014–2022)</span> 2014–2022 war between Ukraine and Russia

The war in Donbas, or Donbas war, was an armed conflict in the Donbas region of Ukraine, part of the broader Russo-Ukrainian War.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Luhansk People's Republic</span> Disputed Russian republic in eastern Ukraine

The Luhansk People's Republic or Lugansk People's Republic is an unrecognised republic of Russia in the occupied parts of eastern Ukraine's Luhansk Oblast, with its capital in Luhansk. The LPR was created by Russian-backed paramilitaries in 2014, and it initially operated as a breakaway state until it was annexed by Russia in 2022.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Humanitarian situation during the war in Donbas</span>

During the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War between the Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists in the Donbas region of Ukraine that began in April 2014, many international organisations and states noted a deteriorating humanitarian situation in the conflict zone.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Horlivka</span> 2014 battle in the Donbas war

The Battle of Horlivka began when Ukrainian government forces attempted to recapture the city of Horlivka, in Donetsk Oblast, from separatist insurgents affiliated with the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) on 21 July 2014.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Offensive on Mariupol (September 2014)</span>

In late August and early September 2014, Russian and Russian-backed separatist troops supporting the Donetsk People's Republic advanced on the government-controlled port city of Mariupol in southern Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine. This followed a wide offensive by Russian-allied forces, which led to their capture of Novoazovsk to the east. Fighting reached the outskirts of Mariupol on 6 September.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Minsk agreements</span> Series of agreements to stop the Donbas war

The Minsk agreements were a series of international agreements which sought to end the Donbas war fought between armed Russian separatist groups and Armed Forces of Ukraine, with Russian regular forces playing a central part. The first, known as the Minsk Protocol, was drafted in 2014 by the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine, consisting of Ukraine, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), with mediation by the leaders of France and Germany in the so-called Normandy Format. After extensive talks in Minsk, Belarus, the agreement was signed on 5 September 2014 by representatives of the Trilateral Contact Group and, without recognition of their status, by the then-leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People's Republic (LPR). This agreement followed multiple previous attempts to stop the fighting in the region and aimed to implement an immediate ceasefire.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Second Battle of Donetsk Airport</span> 2014–2015 battle during the Donbas war

A part of the ongoing war in the Donbas region of Ukraine, the Second Battle of Donetsk Airport began on 28 September 2014. An earlier battle in May 2014 had left Donetsk International Airport in Ukrainian control. Despite a ceasefire agreement, the Minsk Protocol, in place starting 5 September 2014, fighting broke out between Donetsk People's Republic forces affiliated with Russia, and Ukrainian military and volunteer forces.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">January 2015 Mariupol rocket attack</span> Attack on Mariupol by Russian and separatist forces, on January 24th 2015

An attack on Mariupol was launched on 24 January 2015 by Russian and pro-Russian forces against the strategic maritime city of Mariupol, defended by Ukrainian government forces. Mariupol had come under attack multiple times in the previous year in the course of the War in Donbas, including in May–June 2014, when the city was under the control of Russian controlled forces; and in the September 2014 offensive.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Debaltseve</span> 2015 battle in the Donbas war

The Battle of Debaltseve was a military confrontation in the city of Debaltseve, Donetsk Oblast, between the pro-Russian separatist forces of the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People's Republic (LPR), and the Ukrainian Armed Forces, starting in mid-January 2015 during the war in the Donbas region. The Russian forces composed mostly of "Wagner Group" soldiers recaptured Debaltseve, which had been under Ukrainian control since a counter-offensive by government forces in July 2014. The city lay in a "wedge" of Ukrainian-held territory bordered by the DPR on one side, and the LPR on the other, and is a vital road and railway junction.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Shyrokyne standoff</span> 2015 battle in the Donbas war in Ukraine

The Shyrokyne standoff was a battle for the control of the strategic village of Shyrokyne, located approximately 11 km (6.8 mi) east of Mariupol city limits, between Ukrainian forces led by the Azov Regiment, and Russian-backed separatists, between February and July 2015. It was part of the larger war in Donbas. On 10 February 2015, the Azov Regiment launched a surprise offensive against pro-Russian separatists associated with the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) with the aim of pushing the separatist forces away from Mariupol city limits. The village is located just 10 km (6.2 mi) from the Ukrainian-controlled city of Mariupol, and was used as a launching point for separatist attacks on the city, which served as the administrative centre of Donetsk Oblast whilst DPR forces control Donetsk city. Fighting continued until 3 July 2015, when DPR forces unilaterally withdrew from Shyrokyne. Subsequently a cease-fire was declared in the area.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Marinka (2015)</span> 2015 battle in the Donbas war

The Battle of Marinka was a short battle in the war in Donbas in and around Marinka, Donetsk Oblast which took place on 3 June 2015. The Ukrainian 28th Guards Mechanised Brigade, 30th Mechanised Brigade, 43rd Artillery Brigade and 93rd Mechanised Brigade fought the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic's (DPR) Republican Guard and Pyatnashka Brigade under Akhra Avidzba. The town of Marinka was briefly seized by the DPR forces before it was recaptured by the Ukrainians.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Svitlodarsk</span> 2016 battle in the Donbas war

The Battle of Svitlodarsk was a battle in the war in Donbas near Svitlodarsk, Donetsk Oblast in 2016. It was described as the "bloodiest battle in 5 months".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Timeline of the war in Donbas (2014)</span>

This is a timeline of the war in Donbas for the year 2014.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Timeline of the war in Donbas (2015)</span>

This is a timeline of the war in Donbas for the year 2015.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Timeline of the war in Donbas (2022)</span>

This is a timeline of the war in Donbas in early 2022. On 24 February 2022, the war in Donbas escalated into the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine and the battle of Donbas.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Volnovakha</span> Engagement during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine

The battle of Volnovakha was a military engagement which lasted from 25 February 2022 until 12 March 2022, as part of the Eastern Ukraine offensive during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russian and DPR forces engaged Ukrainian forces at the small city of Volnovakha in Donetsk Oblast, which is located close to the Ukrainian-DPR border.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">February 2015 Kramatorsk rocket attack</span>

February 2015 Kramatorsk rocket attack — a shelling of Kramatorsk by Russian forces or pro-Russian separatists during the war in Donbas. Kramatorsk was controlled by Ukrainian government forces at the time of the attack. As a result of shelling, 17 people have died and about 60 were injured.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Donetsk "Donetskhirmash" bus station attack</span>

Artillery shelling of the "Donetskhirmash" transport stop in Donetsk is a mortar shelling of a transport junction on January 22, 2015 in the Leninskyi district of Donetsk, captured by pro-Russian separatists groups during the war in eastern Ukraine. The shelling is classified as a terrorist act.


  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. 1 2 3 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. 1 2 "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 Odesa]. 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.