Why military warehouses detonate again and again in Ukraine?

September 28, 2017

In Ukraine a large number of ammunition, in particular the Soviet model, are stored in military warehouses and requires utilization. Due to outdated rules for the protection of such objects, these arsenals can become easy targets.

Fires often break out at the military warehouses, causing the destruction of infrastructure and human casualties. The largest of them occurred in Novobohdanivka, Zaporizhia region, in 2004 and 2007, in Lozova of the Kharkiv region and Svatove in Luhansk region in 2015. This year the attention of the entire country was attracted to the fires in Balaklia in Kharkiv region at the end of March and recently – not far from Kalynivka in Vinnytsia region.

Ukraine is not the first time faced with the urgent need to protect and ensure the safety of the military warehouses, which could be a serious threat in the context of the hybrid war with Russia, - says Co-director of foreign relations and international security programs at the Razumkov Centre Oleksiy Melnyk. According to him, annually money from the defense budget is allocated for these purposes. In the state budget for 2017, it is foreseen to allocate 141 million UAH according to the budget program “Utilization of ammunition and liquid components of missile fuel, ensuring vitality and explosion safety of arsenals, bases and warehouses of the Armed Forces of Ukraine”.

“However, the money is allocated mostly for passive measures such as scavenging of sites where ammunition is stored, protection against the occurrence of fires or man-made accidents”, - the expert said. “The protection of warehouses from sabotage has always been quite theoretical, and now the threat has become relevant. Due to the technology of drones there is no longer a need to physically penetrate to the object. Military guard and barbed wire can no longer protect these objects”, - said Oleksiy Melnyk.

Oleksiy Melnyk stresses that with the change in the instructions on the storage of warehouses in Ukraine, it is necessary to take care of underground storage facilities for the ammunition that need to be utilized. Since the old weapons that had been taken to Ukraine after the collapse of the USSR lies mostly on open spaces of military warehouses and it is an easy target, especially under current circumstances. “It is necessary to build underground storage facilities for obsolete ammunition, but it takes time and large funds”, - said the expert. To his mind, quick utilization of the “Soviet legacy” can reduce the potential danger from warehouses where obsolete ammunition is stored.


Oleksiy Melnyk

Co-Director, Foreign Relations and International Security Programmes, Coordinator of International Projects

Born in 1962 in Khmelnytsty Rgn


Royal College of Defence Studies, London, UK (2007)

Air Field Operations Officer School, Biloxy, MS, US (2001)

Squadron Officer School, Montgomery, AL, US (1994)

Defence Language Institute, San Antonio, TX, US (1994)

Chernihiv Higher Military Air Force Academy, Ukraine (1984)


1980 – 2001 — Air Force Active Service (Cadet, Instructor Pilot, Flight Commander, Squadron Commander, Deputy Air Force Base Commander, Participant of two UN peacekeeping operations, Lt.Colonel (Ret)

2001 – 2004 — Razumkov Centre

2004 – 2005 — State Company Ukroboronservice

2005 – 2008 — Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, Head Organisational and Analytical Division — First Assistant to Minister of Defence

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