Archive for September 27th, 2017

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Another munitions dump blows – Kalinovka, Vinnytsia

September 27, 2017

Life is full of coincidences.

Each and every reader has met somebody they know by coincidence – simply by being in a certain place at a certain time without prior warning or forethought.

Some coincidences are not what they appear.

There will be times when a reader has been in a certain place and at a certain time on the “off chance” they may meet somebody who they would reasonably expect to be there.  Some may even feign surprise when such a “coincidence” occurs.  To the other party however, it may appear to be a genuine coincidence.

There are then those “coincidences” that are manufactures by one in the absolute knowledge of a desired outcome.

Those with a dose of cynicism in their DNA are perhaps less inclined to instantly accept a coincidence is just that – a coincidence.   They may also question the events that thereafter unfold from such a coincidence.

There are also those that wear a tin-foil hat and to whom nothing is a coincidence and everything is a therefore a conspiracy.  The dots must be joined – even if the picture produced is but one variation of  joining many dots from among the numerous possibilities.

It is possible to go “through the looking glass” and enter worlds within worlds, and to see things that are not there – and to miss the things that are.  It is then necessary to decide whether the things that are there are so obvious as to be a (possibly deliberate) distraction to all else that is there.  To become lost in the hall of mirrors is not difficult to do unless insuring a firm anchor prevents drifting or falling down rabbit holes.

The 26th September was President Poroshenko’s birthday.  It also witnessed a major explosion at the Kalinovka munitions dump in Vinnytsia.

Vinnytsia is perceived to be President Poroshenko’s political stronghold (and that of Prime Minister Groisman too).

It also happened to be a date when the Canadian Defence Minister met with his Ukrainian counterpart to discuss involvement in a joint munitions production facility (among other things discussed).

(Perhaps the Canadians, if joining such an effort, would be wise to insist upon production and storage facilities.)

Happy Birthday Mr President.

However, the coincidence that catches the eye was a public information notice issued by the Vinnytsia Oblast Administration during the afternoon of 25th September, relating to a SBU, National Police, National Guard, Border Service, and military exercise within the oblast to be carried out during 26th and 27th September. – “The UBU in Vinnytsia region requests the residents and guests of the region to understand the measures that, according to Art. 15 of the Law of Ukraine “On Combating Terrorism” will be conducted within the framework of an educational antiterrorist operation (checking of citizens’ identity documents, temporary restriction or prohibition of traffic of vehicles and pedestrians on the streets and roads, an overview of things that are located or transported to them them, etc.) .

In case of detecting suspicious items or receiving information about unlawful actions of unknown persons, we should immediately inform law enforcement officers by phone numbers (0432) 53-13-09 (next UBU).”

It would seem somewhat short warning to the local population.

Odessa normally has a few days notice relating to impending traffic chaos when President, Prime Minister, or lesser mortal with a convoy, intents to bring about collective tutting from the constituency as the city inevitably grinds to a halt due to traffic restrictions.

Likewise military and/or National Guard maneuvers near the Transnistrian border are broadcast a few days in advance.  Misunderstandings and societal anxiety are sought to be avoided.

Perhaps Odessa is simply more organised than Vinnytsia when it comes to forewarning its constituency about abnormal occurrences that may effect and/or otherwise concern the locals?

It goes without saying that the Kalinovka munitions dump would be a major terrorist target in Vinnytsia Oblast.

The question therefore with regard to Vinnytsia is perhaps how long in advance had this exercise had been planned and how much warning were the locals given?  Is it entirely coincidental that such an anti-terrorism exercise would occur at the same time that the Kalinovo munitions dump exploded?

Was this exercise something else, under the mask of an exercise?  If notice to the public was short, and the exercise far more “snap” than “planned”, was this “exercise” an operation acting (under the deliberate misnomer of an exercise) as a result of (perhaps imprecise) intelligence received?

This is the fourth major munitions dump to explode in Ukraine in recent years.  Svatovo, Balakliya and Novoyanisol being the other three.

Perhaps a reader will choose one path over another if they decide The Kremlin or Kremlin agents are responsible for this latest incident.  The “exercise” therefore being an attempt at interception and mitigation.

Alternatively, perhaps a reader will decide that once again poor munitions storage and handling have resulted in this outcome – and that the exercise (being exactly that) is perhaps a contributory factor if due care was not taken at such an obvious site by those involved in the exercise.

Undoubtedly there will be speculation and those that prefer one version to another.  Eventually the circumstances will become known.

Whatever the case, there are more questions to ask other than who did it, and/or how did it happen?

What lessons have been learned from the previous three munition dump explosions, and did those in the command chain above, or those at the Kalinovka munitions dump heed them?

Both security and safety are issues for a munitions site that is about 7 square kilometers in size and long known to be far beyond its storage capacity.

As photographs from the site in 2013 ably display, there are pyramids of rusting and degrading munitions piled up all across the munitions site.

Clearly much of this should have been destroyed not years, but decades ago.

No doubt munitions experts the world over would have palpitations should munitions be stored in the open for years under their supervision.  Equally security experts would have the same palpitations when the munitions security is such.

Perhaps it is indeed a positive that much of these munitions that should long ago have been destroyed will now be so.

It would stretch a reader’s belief that the military leadership of Ukraine were not aware of the storage and over capacity situation at the Kalinovka site.  In a time of war, and with three previous munitions sites exploding, a visit and inspection will surely have taken place.

That naturally does not equate to a decision not to continue to exceed storage capacity or to deal effectively with the handling and storage facilities at the site was either made, or if it was, implemented.  That costs money, and no doubt the defence budget is deemed to have higher priorities – despite the costs, both in terms of munitions lost and their replacement, of the three previous explosions at other munitions sites.

How much serviceable ammunition will remain once the fires are extinguished and the munition stop exploding remains to be seen.  What, if any in underground storage will be unaffected is also unknown.

It is however, perhaps time for the Ukrainian MoD and NSDC to start asking questions about munition dumps, how best to secure them, and actually storing munitions properly.

There is no such thing as 100% security.  It is a question of making security breaches as difficult as possible.  There is no voodoo required to store munitions properly.  There is no mystery to handling munitions safely.  This is not rocket science (as Ukraine can and does do rocket science well).  It is not a controversial and/or painful societal change.  It is very basic and failure to address such issues simply undermines Ukraine’s ability to defend itself.

There are pros and cons to having huge munitions sites vis a vis numerous smaller munitions sites.  Those pros and cons are logistical, security and infrastructure related.  However Ukraine is not a nation that is struggling for space, and it now has a National Guard capable of providing additional security personnel and patrols.

Accidents, and/or negligence, and/or sabotage, at one of numerous smaller sites is perhaps less likely to have the same military impact as those incidents that have occurred at Svatovo, Balakliya, Novoyanisol and now Kalinovka.   A matter of eggs and baskets and the risks of putting all in one.

There will no doubt be an investigation.  It will concentrate upon the “who” and the “how” responsible for causing the explosion.  The outcome will be believed – or not – depending upon how many a reader decides upon their interpretation of the “coincidences” atKalinovka  and within the Vinnytsia Oblast on 26th September.

It would be wise to also give equal weight in that invetigation to the “what” can be done to mitigate the internal contributory factors that always appear to amplify the outcomes rather than diminish them.

 

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