A lull in the ongoing riots in Ukraine have allowed investigators to come in and investigate various claims by both sides. What they've found so far is disheartening. Projectiles originally intended to stop vehicles in their tracks have sadly been used against soft human targets instead, according to media reports.
Though the issues are complex, the riots in Kyiv first broke out more than a month ago, ostensibly over President Viktor Yanukovich's plan to back away from closer relations with the EU, and cultivate closer ties with Russia. At least six people have been reported dead.
Most of the reports coming out of the capital of Ukraine have focused on rubber bullets and tear gas, but there have been sporadic reports of riot police responding with means other than less-than-lethal weapons.
In at least a few cases, those means have included anti-vehicle slugs, fired out of shotguns, according to Armament Research Services (ARES), an Australian munitions consultancy, which spoke with sources and eyewitnesses on the ground:
The projectiles shown are specialised armour-piercing (AP) 12 gauge shotgun projectiles, believed to be developed and produced by the Spetstekhnika ('Specialised Equipment') design bureau, a facility located in Kiev and associated with the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The projectiles are comprised of either a brass or aluminium slug and a core of (likely hardened) steel, designed to act as a penetrator. The design of the projectile has been optimised for stopping vehicles, and the cartridge is referred to as a 'car stopper'.
Снайпер поранив мітингувальника кулею 12 калібру!!! pic.twitter.com/9DM86dvkQ1
— Олександр Аронець (@aronets) January 22, 2014
Anti-vehicle rounds are traditionally supposed to be fired at a car's engine, remaining intact rather than disintegrating while they fly through multiple metal components. They are supposed to be fired at vehicles and vehicles only, with the intention of neutralizing the threat the vehicle itself poses, rather than harming the driver.
They are not supposed to be used on human beings.
None of the deaths so far reported have come from the anti-vehicle rounds, however they have been reported to have caused injuries. The fact that they have not caused any deaths directly yet, though, seems like a small miracle:
Suffice to say, these projectiles are lethal, and would not generally be fired in the course of a crowd-control action. Firing such cartridges against human targets certainly constitutes lethal force and, whilst effective within range constraints, would be an unusual choice.
An unusual choice, indeed.
Via Kyiv Post
Photo credit: AP