Ukraine’s Tavria operational-strategic group has stated that its forces were not involved in the strike on occupied Donetsk. Self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) leader Denis Pushilin blamed Ukrainian forces for the attack which he said killed 28 people and injured 30 others.
Russian forces might shell Donetsk to falsely blame Ukraine, creating doubt and weakening support for military aid. This aims to undermine Western solidarity and pave the way for a potential Russian offensive.
“We responsibly declare that the forces subordinate to the Tavria operational-strategic group did not conduct combat operations with means of destruction in this case. Donetsk is Ukraine! Russia will have to answer for the lives of Ukrainians taken,” the Tavria operational-strategic group wrote on Facebook.
The shelling hit a market in the Kirovskyi district of Donetsk on the morning of 21 January. Pushilin claimed the attack came from Ukrainian 152mm and 155mm artillery from the Kurakhove and Krasnohorivka directions.
However, spokesperson for the Ukrainian Volunteer Army Serhiy Bratchuk reported that the Russians did this from their positions at the Chervonohvardiyske mines in Makiivka, a satellite city of Donetsk.
According to Russian media, Russia has called an emergency UN Security Council meeting over the shelling, with participation from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Donetsk city and its surrounding region in eastern Ukraine, occupied by Russian-backed forces since 2014, often experience shelling attacks. Moscow-installed authorities blame the Ukrainian military, but evidence suggests that Russian troops shell Ukraine-controlled areas from residential neighborhoods, using civilians as human shields.
The Ukrainian government also claims that Russians shell occupied territories to intimidate local residents. About 20 km from the frontline, the city has witnessed intense fighting in nearby areas like Mariinka and Avdiivka.