Donetsk, one of the so-called disputed territories of Ukraine, saw black smoke rising from the Ministry for the Donetsk People’s Republic on Tuesday. Fears have risen that the shelling may have been from Russian forces as part of a false flag exercise to give Russia a reason to attack Kyiv on Wednesday.
August 24 serves as Ukraine’s Independence Day to commemorate its split from Soviet Rule in 1991.
President Zelensky had previously warned Ukrainian civilians to keep celebrations to a minimum and to stay indoors over fears of a “particularly ugly” attack from Russia.
Zelensky has also warned President Putin that there will be a “powerful response” from Kyiv in the event of any attacks targeted within Independence Day commemorations.
It is so far unconfirmed if the shelling was in fact by Russian or Ukrainian forces.
Other reports on Twitter state that the ‘ministry’ is in fact a hotel which also serves as the administration of the head of the Donetsk People’s Republic.
A video was shared on Twitter of a man on Pushkina Boulevard, just a few meters down the road from the ministry.
He can be seen crouching down on the floor as the smoke billowed into the sky from behind other buildings.
The damage to the building appears to be “serious” with some of the glass windows completely shattered, a hole in the roof and debris scattered on the floor.
Twitter user @wartranslated tweeted the video and added updates saying that “local Donetsk channels [are] reporting ‘DPR’ leader’s administration was shelled.
Another replied: “I got the insinuation that it was Russians shelling the building as a precursor to Kyiv tomorrow. Just keeping their hand in, you know.”
Others aired their belief that Ukrainian forces would not intentionally attack a civilian area with @max_svb adding: “False flag for tomorrow when they’re going to attack parliament/presidential building in Kyiv.”
Boris Johnson made it clear on Tuesday that the United Kingdom will “never recognise” Russia’s annexation of Crimea or “any other Ukrainian territory”, which includes Donetsk.
The Prime Minister encouraged Russia to end “this hideous war and withdraw its forces from the entirety of Ukraine”.