#MinskMonitor: Ichnya Ammunition Depot Explosion

A massive fire and days of explosions at a Ukrainian military arsenal

Oct 23, 2018 · 3 min read
Video of an explosion (Source: 1+1 on TSN).

In the early hours of October 9, four areas of the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ 6th Arsenal (military unit A-1479) exploded outside the city of Ichnya (also spelled Ichnia), causing fires and numerous subsequent munitions detonation in the area.

As of October 15, at least 91 people have been hospitalized due to the incident.

Video of the explosion. (Source: Channel 24)

Air traffic stopped, roads were closed, gas lines were shut off, and more than 12,000 people from surrounding villages were evacuated as explosions continued through the next day. Media reports and Ukrainian officials speculated that the explosion may have been sabotage. Ukrainian authorities have previously alleged that other explosions at munition depots, including ones near Kalynivka and Balaklia, were triggered by enemy drones targeting the area.

The depot is a distinct rectangle easily identified in maps/satellite imagery, located southwest of Ichnya, Chernihiv Oblast, near Druzhba, just under around 150km northeast from Kyiv.

Using publicly available satellite imagery on Sentinel Hub, one can see extensive damage to the structures in the depot. Explosions were so intense and numerous that large visible craters were formed.

The initial explosion and subsequent fires and munitions explosions were so large they can be seen on online heat maps, including Fires.ru. This site visualizes information provided by organizations like NASA that conduct thermal monitoring across the world.

Fire map from October 9, 2018 showing the Ichnya arms depot explosion. (Source: Fires.ru)

During a cabinet meeting on October 10, Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak stated the depot housed approximately 70,000 tons of ammunition. The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) announced that the security around all Ukrainian military depots was since increased.

Video showing aerial footage of the arms depo. (Source: YouTube)

The explosions and fires sent munitions throughout the wider area. The Ukrainian government organized cleanup pyrotechnic units and responded to hundreds of reports, collecting nearly 500 pieces of ammunition.

A GPM-54 firefighting tank (Source: Ministry of Defense of Ukraine)

By October 10, officials reported that the fires were under control with volunteers, the region’s firefighters, planes, and firefighting GPM-54 tanks extinguishing flames.

(Source: State Emergency Service of Ukraine DSNS)

This incident brings attention to the importance of security around and maintenance of weapons storage sites. Whether the incident occurred as a result of sabotage or otherwise, these sites are of critical importance as they can evidently impact thousands of civilians.

Follow the latest Minsk II Violations via the @DFRLab’s #MinskMonitor.

Follow along for more in-depth analysis from our #DigitalSherlocks.


@AtlanticCouncil’s Digital Forensic Research Lab.

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