At daytime, the ATO headquarters claimed that Alexandr Zakharchenko had given orders to the mercenaries to take the Donetsk Airport by storm. Massive attack began next.
Advisor to the Minister of Defense Yury Biriukov, who is constantly in contact with the fighters within the airport, reported artillery shelling and short-range battles using sniper weaponry, which take place mostly in the new terminal of the airport. Most of it is currently under the ‘Cyborgs’ control, however the mercenaries could have reinforced their positions in certain areas.
Zakharchenko hastened to claim today that the entire territory of the airport would be occupied by the separatist within half an hour. However, the battle lasted well into the night. Zakharchenko’s claims were denied by ATO spokesman Andriy Lysenko.
“He reported yesterday that they had taken the airport. That everything was all right. Today they are ready to free it. Inconsistent, illogical, untrue, provocation – I cannot comment more,” stated Lysenko.
The OSCE mission failed to gain access to the airport due to the fighting
The ATO headquarters claimed on Thursday that there was a possibility that the mercenaries would attempt sabotage in light of the fact that the OSCE mission was to pay a visit to the airport. However, due to the tension, the observers failed to inspect the area.
“Today we had two attempt to enter the airport, but we never reached it. When we were on location, we gave our own evaluation as to the security level. We could hear gunshots, we are civilian mission, therefore the decision was made to return to our positions,” stated press attache Iryna Hudyma.
One of the volunteers aiding the fighters in the airport and maintaining communication with them throughout the day, Olexiy Mochanov, confirmed that Zakharchenko’s claims of having taken the airport were ungrounded. According to him, the ‘Cyborgs’ have six wounded and one dead.
Now the soldiers have to fight their way into the airport
The troops based in the village of Pisky near Donetsk managed to fight their way into the terminals and evacuate those who needed medical assistance. Commander of OUN battalion Mykola Kokhanivsky told Radio Liberty that Pisky was also under constant shelling. Here, artillery battles continue. Communication with the airport had not been interrupted. At the same time, as the servicemen noted, within the past few days they had noted that the separatists’ shelling had become much more precise, therefore they assume the possibility that the Russian army had come to aid them.
“The officers who work there say that the nature of the artillery fighting and aiming had changed. The separatists have never been so precise before, and they have a feeling that the artillerists have been replaced with professional Russians. The people in the combat zone find it obvious that the nature of the shelling and precision have changed, so there is a more professional unit there instead of the rebels,” Mochanov said.
The mercenaries attacked 35 Donbas localities on January 15.