Since 2016, 13 Ukrainian servicemen have died and over 30 more have been seriously injured in explosions. And unlike the many other casualties of Ukraine’s ongoing war with Russia-backed separatists in the east, these were not the result of enemy attacks. Instead, these were caused by Molot mortars used by the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
According to the Ministry of Defense’s investigations into these incidents, seven of the nine separate explosions occurred during training exercises due to “double loading,” which places fault with the soldiers. But they disagree.
The servicemen say that double-loading the mortars is impossible and question the quality of the mortars. They claim to have found faults with the firing pins, elevating mechanism, barrels, paint, metal, and, most importantly, the safety latches.
While the mortars were assembled by the Mayak plant, which belongs to the state defense industry conglomerate Ukroboronprom, the individual components of the mortars were made by several other companies.
One of the supplier companies is the Starokramatorsk Machine Building Plant, which, in addition to supplying weapons’ parts to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, has contracts with Russian companies. It also happens to be owned by Petro Poroshenko Bloc MP Maksym Efimov.
What’s more, at some point in the production of the mortars, the Defense Ministry ran out of money and entered into additional agreements with the Mayak plants. The Military Prosecutor’s Office is currently investigating these contracts, which could have cost Ukraine $250,000 in losses.
Hromadske has investigated the production chain of the Molot mortars, and spoken to military personnel who use them, to find out who might be responsible for the untimely deaths of 13 Ukrainian servicemen and the injuries of dozens more.
/By Victoria Roshchyna
/Translated by Sofia Fedeczko