Yesterday, Prosecutor General’s Office published an official press release on its findings in investigation of the Ilovaisk tragedy, when more than 350 Ukrainian soldiers were killed by Russian troops in a trap near Ilovaisk in August 2014. What conclusions can be drawn from the document?

1. Ukraine has finished investigation and gathered all evidence that its fighters were killed by the Russian aggressors. Now, the results will be provided to the European Human Rights Court, where the Ministry of Justice will be presenting charges against the Russian Federation. The claim of Ukraine against Russia has been accepted, the hearing is to start this fall. Ukraine’s government is gathering all evidence and arguments to include them in the legal document.

2. I want to draw special attention to a speaking fragment that the press release stressed upon: General Muzhenko [Ukraine’s Chief of the General Staff – ed.] called the Chief of the General Staff of Russian Army Baluevsky 12 times. He agreed the route of the recovery for the surrounded Ukrainian troops, the time and the order. The commander of the Ukrainian Army, as his country was being invaded by the aggressor, did not make decisions to maneuver or break through — he held talks with the aggressor, he persuaded the aggressor, they fooled him, of course, and it resulted in a clash in very favorable conditions for the Russian and very unfavorable for Ukrainians. Instead of a breakthrough, they did a recovery in a convoy. Along the route, Russian battalions were deployed at equipped positions. Any military would find this fact, as confirmed by the PGO, an evidence of low level of adequacy of the military leadership. Investigations into activities of our generals, including then-ATO commander in the Donbas, Muzhenko, are all separate cases and not yet closed. But it is a domestic, not international issue. By the way, the Ilovaisk report of the General Staff did not even mention the talks between Muzhenko and Baluevsky, although Muzhenko himself posted on Facebook that he was agreeing on the recovery route with Russian General Staff and Russian generals Bogdanovsky, Kartapolov, and Evstratov.

3. Now it should be mentioned that entire units of president and General Staff’s propaganda were telling ugly lies for a year that the attack upon Ilovaisk was allegedly an initiative of volunteer battalions; it was them who advanced without an order, it was them who caused all problems, and Korban and Kolomoiskyi [politicians from Dnipro – ed.] gave money for taking Ilovaisk (and that’s why it all started), and brazen stuff like that. But PGO confirmed it again: all orders were given by the ATO commanders. They kept the troops in the entrapment until 29th [August 2014 – ed.], did not allow recovering when the roads were open, and Muzhenko personally revealed all information about his troops to the adversary.

4. PGO says 366 military were killed, 300 soldiers taken captive during the Ilovaisk operation. Total losses of the group that fought for Ilovaisk were about 80 percent of personnel.

5. I was the member of the group of military and tactical experts on the Ilovaisk operation together with a group of generals and Defense Ministry officers. The conclusions drawn are univocal and competent from the military command point of view. It’s a pity these materials are classified and not available for the Armed Forces. I believe officers and generals have the right to know, at least for service use, how the decisions were made back then. The time will come and these materials will be definitely made public. So that the people knew what information was available, what decisions were made, who and how where moving the troops, how the maps of operative situations were drafted, and how important intelligence information was processed. It should be noted that the military intelligence gave quite exact direction of the enemy attack and partially revealed the composition of the group.

6. The question is why did they disband the 51st brigade? The investigation suggests it was not guilty of the catastrophe. They were untrained people fighting under existing conditions. The brigade should be whitewashed, at least for the sake of historical truth.

Yurii Butusov, Censor.NET