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Military unit A 1352 (65th rocket and artillery arsenal) is deployed in the city of Balakliya. Until recently, it has been considered to be the largest place in Europe where different types of ammunition are stored.
It was established in 1918. Its technical area is 368 hectares. According to the passport, this base is designed for 150 thousand tons of ammunition, currently 125 thousand tons are kept there.
As of 2009, approximately 30% of all artillery shells in Ukraine were stored there. The media reported (with reference to some inner sources) that they store ammunition from small-caliber artillery shells to S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, but many of them were to be subjected to utilization. In 2010, Kharkiv regional state administration reported that the military unit A 1352 in Balakliya was by 20% loaded with ammunition; it was quite risky, so the object has been gradually unloaded.
The dismantlement of ammunition in the arsenal has not been carried out since 2006. This decision was made after explosions at artillery depots in Novobohdanivka, Zaporizhia region in 2004. Then as a result of the explosions, 5 people were killed and 4 injured. In 2005, the situation in Novobohdanivka repeated, but with less large-scale consequences. And this, unfortunately, was not the last such case at the Ukrainian military depots.
So, in 2005, near Tsvetokha village, Khmelnytsky region, the 47th arsenal cought a fire that caused explosions of ammunition. During the localization of the fire, 9 servicemen of the arsenal were injured. About 110 thousand tons of ammunition were kept in warehouses near Tsvetokha village. Arsenal had to be disbanded.
In 2008, an emergency situation occurred on the territory of the 61st arsenal of the Southern Operational Command of the Land Forces in Lozova, Kharkiv region. The fire broke out, and later explosions took place. About 95 thousand tons of ammunition were stored there. The entire population within a radius of five kilometers was evacuated. Some buildings were destroyed. Military Prosecutor's Office of Ukraine opened a criminal case under Article 425 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine ("Negligent attitude to military service").
After the incident in Lozova, the attention was immediately drawn to the warehouses in Balakliya. The authorities claimed that all possible measures were taken to prevent and extinguish fires, and the fire company of the arsenal was provided with everything necessary. In December 2015, someone attempted to put fire at the 65th. Then there was only a small fire, and it was possible to prevent the explosions. The incident occurred just a month after a major fire in military warehouses in Svatovo, Luhansk region, where 16 people were injured, 4 more local residents were killed. There are several versions of the causes of the fire of the warehouse. One of them is negligence of officials, the second is a terrorist act.
The reason for the latest fire in the warehouse in Balakliya is called sabotage. The Chief Military Prosecutor Anatoly Matios said that before the explosion, there was a hum of a flying machine, similar to the flight of a UAV, and after that explosions exploded in two places. The city introduced unprecedented security measures, and evacuated the residents.