Chronicle of Defense of Donetsk airport new terminal on Jan. 13-21, 2015

Yurii Butusov

Jan. 21, 2015 was the last day of defense for the new terminal in the Donetsk international airport, often referred to as DAP.

At around 8 a.m. Jan. 21, the organized resistance in the new terminal came to an end. The defense positions were destroyed by an explosion a day before. No ammunition and water were left; the resources for resistance were depleted. Five gravely wounded soldiers died during the night. By 8 a.m. soldiers who were able to move had left the airport.

16 remaining defenders of the new terminal, including four soldiers with grave wounds, surrendered to the enemy. Anatolii Svyryd and Ihor Branovytskyi, who were also injured, were helping their wounded comrades as long as they could.

Here is the chronicle of the fighting for the DAP new terminal in 2015.

Jan. 13 marked the end of the ‘cease-fire’ in the DAP area. The enemy tanks hit directly the airport’s watch tower, controlled by Ukrainian military. The tower collapsed, with only three floors remaining.

The assault groups of “Sparta” mercenary battalion launched an assault against the Ukrainian position in the new terminal. They were reinforced by tanks hitting directly. The tanks and the artillery of the enemy were effectively reinforcing the assault activities of the infantry.

The enemy took positions in the old terminal of the Donetsk airport. Attempts to get to the new terminal were made under dense fire from all kinds of weapons, which made deliveries of supplies and evacuation of wounded impossible.

On Jan. 13-16 the enemy blew up Ukrainian-set minefields in the terminal and approached the last defense line of the airport defenders. The enemy’s infantry was rotating — one unit replaced another. The defenders of the airport were forced to fight without breaks.

On Jan. 17, the 6th Mechanized Company supported by the 3rd Tank Company of the 93rd Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine attempted to seize an observation point of the enemy in Iverskyi monastery to the south of the new terminal, used by the enemy to watch the approaches to the new terminal near Pisky village. They failed due to the enemy’s strong resistance, as well as intense artillery and mortar fire.

The assault forces of the enemy broke into the basement and the roof of the building. The defense was in critical condition. They had to decide whether they deblock or break through the entrapment. But they didn’t decide in favor of the breakthrough.

Jan. 18, a company of the 1st Battalion of the 95th Airmobile Brigade and a tank platoon of the 3rd Battalion of the 1st Tank Brigade assaulted Spartak village to the north of the new terminal. From there, the enemy was shelling our vehicles that attempted to deliver supplies to the new terminal from Opytne. The task was to blow up the Putylivskyi bridge, an important communication center. The bridge was destroyed by tankmen commanded by Lieutenant I. Zhdan and A. Skrytskyi. They also destroyed up to five units of armored equipment. However, the paratroopers failed to break through to Spartak. The village remained under the enemy control, and the assaults from that direction continued.

Due to the actions of our troops on Jan. 17-18, the enemy temporarily slowed down. Wounded were evacuated from the terminal, and food delivered.

On the same day, a group of 11 volunteers from the 90th Airmobile Battalion of the 81st Brigade commanded by Sergeant Anatolii Svyryd broke through to the terminal.

On Jan. 19, the assault groups of the enemy seized basement and attic premises above the sector of the last defense line of the airport. A gas attack was conducted, followed by a dense smoke cloud.

On the same day, the first detriment of the defense line in the terminal was conducted. The situation of the defenders of the terminal got desperate. Defending the positions under such conditions became impossible. Another blow-up could follow, and they had no strength to conduct a counterattack. The last reinforcement arrived – three field engineers of the 91st Regiment of Combat Support.

Jan. 20. To alleviate the defenders’ position, a group of fighters on three armored vehicles commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Oleh Kuzminykh and commander of the 2nd Battalion of the 79th Airmobile Brigade were sent under thick fog to take a position to the north of the new terminal. Having no navigation devices and orientation, in zero visibility, the convoy got into an ambush. Two armored vehicles of the 90th Battalion were hit, nine soldiers were killed, eight taken prisoners, including Kuzminykh. An armored vehicle of the 79th Brigade was hit by an anti-tank grenade launcher, but got out of the ambush thanks to valor of its wounded driver Vladyslav Rokochyi.

At 3 p.m. the enemy blew up the last defense line. This explosion inflicted the gravest losses to the terminal defenders. It destroyed major part of the ammunition. No more defenses remained. Several surviving fighters were still resisting. They had no water, so they were melting ice. The situation was desperate. The people were calling to the leadership of the country, to the Army command, to Army commander Viktor Muzhenko personally; they reported them of the situation. However, no more decisions were made.

Jan. 21. Five gravely wounded soldiers died during the night. By 8 a.m. the soldiers who were able to move had left the airport. None of those who left the airport died. If aid was provided to the defenders — at least some stretchers and people for evacuation — we could have saved them all. But for that, an order to retreat should have been given. Airport operation commander Muzhenko never gave it. 16 remaining defenders, without strength and means for keeping fighting, were taken captive. The last one of them was exchanged in December 2016.

The defense of the Donetsk airport lasted for 242 days.

Maps by Yevhen Halkovskyi

Yurii Butusov, Censor.NET

Источник: https://en.censor.net.ua/r424286