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Sunday, June 19, 2022

Shelling in the Novus District, 2/27-28

Death in Bucha's Gray Zone, Part 4: Shelling in the Novus District, 2/27-28

June 19, 2022 (rough, incomplete) 

last update August 16, 2022

Part 3 covered the destruction of a Russian armored column on southern Vokzalna street on the morning of February 27. ... this post covers other shelling on northern Vokzalna the same and/or the next day. It's a bit jumbled, and also doesn't seem as crucial as other reports - therefore, it's optional slogging. 

101 Vokzalna
In another development on the morning of the 27th, Ukraine's State Emergency Services reported "at 08:20 in Bucha on Vokzalna Street 101 a projectile hit a nine-story residential building with subsequent fire. The fire was localized. There were no casualties. 5 people and 1 unit were involved from the SES. units of the SES left the scene in connection with the shelling." (my.ua

Widely published images were easily geolocated to the south end of 101 Vokzalna, overlooking the column's route some 1.2km north of the attack site. The first and most common view is at right, showing thick smoke from floors 7-9, with a cross-and-circle impact mark at floor 8. 

Below is a more detailed composite view from a Radio Svoboda video widely cited in this post. Here we can see many little impacts to the south-facing walls and possibly to the eastern face. We can also see unreported damage to the neighboring building to the south - #2 Energetykiv St, which includes the "Portal Bucha" co-working space. Its south face and possibly east face have taken hits, its peaked roof and balcony housing on the east side seem to be totally missing from this angle (compare 2015 street view). Also noting a light pole was damaged, perhaps by a direct shell impact.

Ukrinform.net reported for the morning of the 27th: "Bucha - a missile hits a 9-story residential building." If this were a missile ...  it came in fairly horizontal, at a final angle from the southeast. There's no evidence the Russian column in Bucha that day had any missile launchers to do this with, even if they could reach the right spot. Considering the Russian advance was hit to the south, there may have been complementary strikes further up and earlier - if fired from a distance, that would be from Kiev or Irpin. SE, and might overshoot and hit the building , although to hit it that high on accident would be less likely. 

As far as I know, the worst of this could be from some kind of tank shelling, and the damage came probably in 2+ rounds - some simple gunfire, perhaps, chipped the walls in spots clearly after the fire has coated it with smoke. The armor convoy that did stretch to the southeast, and the part that survived the attack probably passed here again on their way back north. On both passes, they may have reason to fire back at a sniper, and an upper level hits make sense for that.

Russia was widely blamed. "Russian airstrike" (IndiaToday) - "Russian killers bombing civil buildings" (MALTESE ASSISTANCE SERVICE Ivano-Frankivsk on Facebook) - "Russian army shelled a residential building" (The Centre for Strategic Communications and Information Security under the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, on Twitter) - "Russian shell." (Aleph on Telegram and on Twitter)  - "cannon shells fired by #RussianArmy tanks."  (Babak Taghvaee) - "Russians have just shelled the apartment building in Bucha. Russian tanks trying to break into the city." (Oleksandra Matviichuk). None of these suggests there might be a legitimate reason the jets or tanks might strike the upper floors of a tall building overlooking the route of a Russian military column.

The most widely-seen image of the apartment building, with internal fires just taking off, appear mainly just after 9am, but appear as early as 8:44 (noted by Val). But it was reported as happening at 8:20, and a less-seen  view was posted 8:19 AM, showing a slightly later scene with fires well-developed. So it probably happened around 8:15-8:17, or nearly an hour before the big attack on south Vokzalna at 9:10. Initial reports said there were no injuries in that attack, and that was never updated that I've seen. 2 Energetykiv hasn't lost its roof or balconies at this time - that must have happened later in the day.

Note: this photo also shows a faint plume of white smoke rising to the right. It seems limited,  like exhaust from an rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) fired from there.

Other Shelling Around the Novus Store

(Twitter, 2/27, 4:58 PM "Fighting continues in Bucha: one missile hit a residential building, a shopping center - a spokeswoman for the SES." "Shopping center" could mean the Giraffe Mall in Irpin, but might mean - for example - the Novus supermarket not far from 101 Vokzalna, as said "in Bucha." A bit to the north, another residential building, a retail building, and the Novus were all hit with some kind of artillery shells, perhaps at the same basic time or at least by early on the 28th. See mappings below.

The store was damaged by the morning of the 28th, so probably the day before. Ukrainian Pravda posted a photo-heavy report then: "the central district also suffered because on the "Warsaw" (highway to Kiev) the enemy column tried to break into the capital. The Russian military was stopped by Ukrainian defenders." The Warsaw Highway mentioned is the E373 inside city limits, which runs just south of Novus. It's also called Nove highway. On that street, just west of Vokzalna, barricades were made of tires, trash bins, and a shelled car, with Molotov cocktails prepared inside the covered walkways at this weird little base. Locals hurling these at Russian invaders is something that was reported, but may have never happened, or had little relevance.

Other photos show damage to Novus, a neighboring building (104-B Kyjevo-Myrots'ka St.) in morning sunlight, solar azimuth about 140 degrees = around 9:45 AM per NOAA solar calculator. One photo inside the store showed "probably blood" on the floor. As shown below, it does look like that.

Investigation-Info wrote "The Russian military aimed directly at the entrance of the Novus supermarket." Tanks were seen shooting at the monument just after they passed the store. Someone there was likely shooting at the Russians first, perhaps from windows behind that monument, or from the store. 

At least one interesting Ukrainian fighter - Volodymyr Kovalsky - was reportedly killed in action on the 27th, in some fighting "near Novus" in Bucha. Olga Klymenko on Twitter, morning of the 28th: "Volodymyr Kovalsky was #KIA near Novus in #Bucha. Participant of #Maidan he joined UAF in 2015 and fought in the #Donbas. In 2016 he stumbled on a land mine and lost both legs. Went through rehabilitation and started his own business, doing sports. 🇺🇦 Enternal memory to the Hero!"  UkrArmyBlog 🇺🇦 on Twitter also announced this on the afternoon of the 28th, but specified Kovalsky was killed "yesterday." No further info yet on just what he was doing for whom and how he was killed.

In nearby strikes that seem related but aren't reported until the next day, two Russian AFVs and a military-looking truck were also destroyed, and another buildings west of Novus was also damaged. The Radio Svoboda video filmed late afternoon on the 28th gives much detail on damage in what's called the Novus district. I geolocated using Google maps street view (only the northern AFV was a bit tricky to place). By now, these also have dates attached - to be explained.

The southern tank was really flattened and melted, and looks a lot different at different times and angles. Here's an April view that shows a burned out civilian car next to it. Буча - зачистка міста від окупантів спецпризначенцями Національної поліції - YouTube Note the location: in front of that home with the columns and balcony, tall trees to the right, a tiny house behind a wall to the left. This is how it was placed on the above map. 

A video posted and dated February 28 seems to show that "tank "being hit, filmed from the Novus parking lot at a bit past solar noon - "Russian BMP in #Bucha, telling civilians to remain calm, blown up by a Ukrainian territorial defense member with an RPG" (28 FEB)" A tweet to explore this. Hedges block an actual view of the BMP, but the smoke from its hit is very nearby, roughly in front of that tiny house seen above, or about where the southern wreck was seen.

A short video dated Feb. 28 shows the northern tank burning hot (right), also in early afternoon sunlight. A photo dated Feb. 28 shows it just smoking, diffusing the sunlight (inset below). A distance photo dated Feb. 28 (I noted the date but lost the link) shows smoke rising from two spots - one corresponding with the northern tank, one close to the south one. That's early afternoon sun like in the other images. See below. 

As for the difference with the southern plume - a late-afternoon photo by Maksim Levin (R.I.P.) dated Feb. 28 has the southern tank right there at the corner, and more intact than we'd later see. (inset below) 

Later it's been moved a bit south and been more fully melted. Some images around show it left some treads, there's a new totally crushed car where it was, and some powerful force has cut down a larger tree (me on Twitter). The crushed car, in turn, is next to another crushed car (video, opening moments) that contained the driver (tweet

The Novus store was damage in at least 2 spots. Here in a morning photo from Ukrainian Pravda, the south corner with shrapnel damage and door blown open. Another impact at the far corner was just inside the glass - exact damage and impact points unclear, may include breaking and looting by locals or fighters, alcohol smashing, etc. but it appears at least partly explosive in nature, affecting this SE-facing side. 

The two buildings damaged just west of the store also seem to be hit from the southeast, just behind a burned out truck. It's not clear whose this was, but quite likely not Russian - maybe used by Ukrainian fighters, or just a larger civilian truck - I don't know my vehicles, really. It's in the south part of the Novus parking lot, aligned in a parking space as if parked. 

To the west is a 5 story building, 104-B Kyjevo-Myrots'ka St. It seems residential, but includes "Hazeta Buchansʹki Novyny," newspaper publishers. The east end was impacted, with fires on all floors right there, but widely just on the top floor (left photo shows the building's south face). No reports on casualties or losses. 

Add 8/16: The building on the left above is apparently a different one (104-A? 104-B?), or perhaps the back side of 104-Б, Kyjevo-Myrots'ka St - a video filmed as it was burning CN in Ukraine on Twitter shows a front or south side I hadn't seen, where fires rage around another impact point right above the entrance.

The same video also show damage at Novus and at the building across the street (gold - see next) ... and to an upper floor window at the 76 Pushinska street (red), which I hadn't noticed before.

The next building to the southwest is a 9-story commercial building, address apparently 104 Kyjevo-Myrots'ka St. - maybe part residential, but including a door store.  Val on Twitter - It was impacts at least 4 distinct times, at least one in a window causing some serious fires. east or ESE-facing walls, including a sharp cutoff at the north corner suggests the fire came fairly straight in, but with a trend to the right or north, Tank shells may be the best explanation or a bit from the left = from the southeast, broadly speaking. Likewise, no reports on casualties.

Not Quite Novus District
Another building worth considering isn't quite in the Novus district, but a ways south,  more in the middle span of Vokzalna street. 2a Ostrovs'koho st. is seen in the first 20 seconds of the Radio Svoboda video. Again with no reported casualties, something came in from above and blew the roof wide open. Directions not clear. Filmed late afternoon 2/28, still smoldering as fire crews wrap up their work. this building was probably damaged on the 28th; there's also a lack of smoke right there on the 27th (white star below) - geolocated by me from a video posted 12:20 PM on the 27th - 
improved version here, and note the north smoke (lime green) is probably at the Antonov airport in Hostomel, some 8km from the camera. By this, there seem to be fires at Novus, at least one of the west buildings, perhaps the truck, 101 Vokzalna, and at the bend of Vokzalna. No smoke is seen at 2a Ostrovs'koho, nor at the southern tank (the northern one being hard to tell from Novus smoke). But to be fair, the video is from before noon, and the tanks were hit early afternoon, possibly on the 27th. But if so, no one mentioned or showed it until the next day.
There's also a photo of 2a Ostrovs'koho burning (and 101 Vokzalna in the distance done burning), but it's posed as a March photo in this BBC article about a baby born in Bucha. "When they did finally try to escape by car," maybe on Feb. 28, "they had had to turn back when they heard that a column of Russian military vehicles was heading their way." So they stayed until the baby was born on March 8 and an evacuation corridor was announced 2 days later. The photo is captioned "Driving out of Bucha, Anna and Volodymyr saw the destruction caused by Russian strikes." They drove out March 11, with a 3-day old baby girl. 

Dates compared by Collapse Into Now: note the roof corner is still intact in the fire scene, burned away late on the 28th. The photo is misattributed. Solar time: azimuth somewhere between 188 and 226 = around 12:30PM to 3PM, favoring the later half. Sunset, a bit before which the fire was contained = 5:39 PM. (NOAA)

confirms other locales hit on the 27th (a missile hits 9-storey residential building - On Novoye highway, the roof of a residential building is on fire), skips the massive fires on Vokzalna, adds "33 residential building set on fire as a result of shelling" at places we don't know - on: Novoyablonksa (far southeast) - Voiniv Internatsionalistiv st. (far northwest) and Dachna, (not shown here, running parallel on block west of that) - and Tarasivska st. east of the column attack is where "a projectile hit production workshop 32 of the Institute of Fibergalss and a fuel and lubricants warehouse -  likely spot found by Collapse Into Now using labels on Google Maps - confirmed with a view of its smoke in the afternoon from the west - again with a view before 11:32 from the north - all 3 added in pink to the map above -  Zhovtneva (where Vokzalna bends east - smoke may be seen there - red line above).

Review: What, When, Who
2/27-28 Incidents Review...the impact at 101 Vokzalna, the Novus, on the Nove Highway ... happened partly or all as Russian vehicles passed down that street to that massive defeat, with some of this shelling around an hour before that - Russian tank fire against sniper positions makes the most sense, and it would be predicated on attacks launched from these civilian places, as Ukraine's "total defense" policy openly encourages. Otherwise, some of the damage could be caused by more Ukrainian artillery, rockets, mortars, RPGs against moving forces, on the 27th or the 28th. That's not terribly specific, but it's what I can say.

Russian bombs, tank or missile fire against innocents for no reason was alleged or implied. 

The date of all we can see on Feb. 28 has been questioned; it makes the most sense with known incursion on the 27th, and it's unclear what they'd be trying to do on the 28th. Bucha Mayor Anatoly Fedoruk said in an interview with Ukrainian Pravda: "Do you remember the broken column at the station? In fact, it stretched across Bucha all the way to Gostomel. Such bravado they went to Kiev." These tanks could be part of the same column, attacked at a different point. And we have tanks shooting at the monument area and likely taking fire at other moments, the store and neighboring building damaged, likely the other one too and a truck, all hit the 27th. 

But another try the very next day it just might be, because 2 tanks were destroyed. Five images of disparate sources all show parts of the same two attacks. All claim it's the 28th, and no images or reports of such tank destructions near the Novus store appear prior to that, including in the detailed U.P. report from the morning of the 28th. We also see no smoke from these spots in the 27th noon view. The evidence suggests these all happened after noon, perhaps on the 27th, but then it seems the column's remnants were leaving Bucha around 10 am that day, so either way, they'd have to come back for more, and the following day makes more sense than the same day.

Mayor Anatoly Fedoruk said "The participants in the territorial defense who were on the lists received 6 Kalashnikov rifles. But when the military registration and enlistment office left, he took it away. That is, even those who were ready to defend the city were left without weapons." Most state agencies including "military enlistment office" left on Feb. 25, he says. (UP interview)
... but someone here was armed on the 27th and 28th - them man firing an RPG on the 28th, probably Mr. Kovalsky killed the day before, and others yet, likely shooting at Russians from residential buildings, like Vokzalna 101, Vodoprovidna 62 ...  one man seen in the Radio Svoboda video near Novus carries what seems to be some kind of anti-tank weapon, late afternoon on the 28th.  We can see Right Sector flags erected at attack sites on the edges of Bucha, but it's not clear who these inside the city were fighting with.

Add 8/16: A Babel.ua timeline of resistance hears from Vladimir Shcherbinin, head of "the public organization Buchanska Varta or "Bucha Guard." who apparently coordinated with Territorial Defense Forces in its resistance operations, mainly described as early; he himself fought the Russians near the Novus in north-central Bucha on Feb. 27, getting badly injured and hospitalized for it. After this, he says "One sniper went and shot about ten of Russians. Then two more guys. One of our fighters went and burned the armored personnel carrier at night. He died, itʼs a pity, he was a good guy."

1 comment:

  1. Another one for your: "Ukrainian Photojournalist Maks Levin ‘Executed in Cold Blood’ by Russian Soldiers" . real??

    article: https://www.vice.com/en/article/wxnq99/maks-levin-russia-ukraine
    analysis by reporters without borders: https://www.vice.com/en/article/wxnq99/maks-levin-russia-ukraine


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