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The Ilovaysk hellhole

Valentin Baryshnikov

Ukrainian servicemen suffer severe losses while breaking the siege near Ilovaisk

“Andrey Teteruk! Commander of Myrotvorets is alive, we were too early to bury him! He will live for a long time! He just entered our base with a group of soldiers! Together with Dnepr-1 commander Yury Bereza and his fighters!” Such was the message posted by Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov on his personal Facebook page. He was talking about one of the volunteer battalions that ended up surrounded near the town of Ilovaisk in the east of the country.

Earlier Avakov reported: “Our first Ilovaisk group fighters, including 28 people from the MIA battalions Myrotvorets (14), Kherson (3) and Dnepr-1 (11) entered the base point of the front line National Guard brigade in Komsomolske. They were joined by several territorial defense battalions of the Defense Ministry. They held the border the entire night! About a hundred fighters (28 from volunteer battalions now and guys from the DM) came to our positions. This is not the group that held defense near Chervonopilye, it’s another one. We are waiting for the rest!”

On Sunday representative of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council Andriy Lysenko stated that the Ukrainian servicemen captured several Russian paratroopers when breaking through the siege near Ilovaisk. According to Lysenko, the captured servicemen are not prisoners of war, as “officially Russia is not at war with Ukraine.” There is no precise number of the captured servicemen. Over 80 Ukrainian soldiers who earlier left the siege near Ilovaisk were delivered to the military hospital in Dnipropetrovsk. According to Member of the Parliament Iryna Herashchenko, some are severely wounded.

The Facebook page of volunteer battalion Crimea posted photographs of the retreat near Ilovaisk and claims that the fighters were fired at when they tried to exit through the so-called ‘humanitarian corridor,’ the creation of which was proposed to the separatists by the Russian President Vladimir Putin, to which the separatists stated that the Ukrainian servicemen were to hand in their weapons and ammunition before they left.

Earlier the “Defense Minister” of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic Vladimir Kononov cold Interfax agency that several Ukrainian army departments “started moving to exit the siege. Some on armored vehicles, some on foot, having destroyed their equipment. These actions have nothing to do with the humanitarian corridor,” said Kononov, adding that the rebels had started combat against the enemy.

Editor-in-chief of the Ukrainian information website CensorNET Yury Butusov published a statement today, in which he called the events near Ilovaisk a fiasco and demanded an investigation of the actions of the ATO and Defense Ministry commandment, and, particularly, the resignation of Defense Minister Valery Heletey and Head of the General Headquarters Viktor Muzhenko:

“… I am asking for the Head Commander to examine the possibility of an immediate objective analysis of the reasons of the criminal actions and lack thereof on part of the ATO and Defense Ministry commandment tomorrow, in light of severe losses the Ukrainian army suffered during the antiterrorist operation, as well as the reasons why the ATO commandment failed to give the troops the order to retreat from Sector B in the Ilovaisk siege…

I think it would be logical for the next session of the Verkhovna Rada to create a parliamentary committee which would investigate the aforementioned events in sector B behind closed doors, as well as the actions of the ATO commandment in the border sector D in July-August which lead to similar severe losses among our troops…

The Ilovaisk hellhole is a fiasco. We have to be honest in admitting it, in order to correct the fatal mistakes that were made…

When they tell you we have no other generals, it is an outright lie. We have many wonderful and dignified commanders who proved their military prowess in battle. If you don’t want generals, get colonels, their subordinates. But they have to be professionals who showed their talent in action, who prize the lives of their soldiers!…

In an interview to Radio Liberty Butusov described the events near Ilovaisk the following way:

“A direct invasion of Russian troops to Ukrainian territory occurred. This invasion was no surprise for the Ukrainian commandment, it was executed with at least 5-6 tactical groups battalions. On August 24, 4 tactical group battalions entered on the southern front of the antiterrorist operation. Throughout the day they practically met no resistance when entering through the positions of the troops in sector D, which covers the border with Russia, and exited at the rear of the sector B troops that were fighting near Ilovaisk. Unfortunately, the threat to the Ilovaisk group was not determined in a timely fashion by the Ukrainian commandment, ATO commandment, and measures to cover the communications of this group were not employed. The responsibility for this lies on the ATO commander, head of the General Headquarters Viktor Muzhenko and Defense Minister Valery Heletey. As a result, the ATO commandment made no decision to retreat during 5 whole days, which resulted in a Russian armed group which surrounded the Ukrainian troops near Ilovaisk building stronger defense, blocking retreat paths, and this was the reason why the breakthrough led to unfortunately high numbers of casualties, losses among the Ukrainian army. Our troops were attacked during the breakthrough by the Russian 106 Paratrooper division from Ryazan and the 9 motorized brigade from Nizhny Novgorod.

So there was no corridor? 

Of course. Putin fooled the Ukrainian government and all talk about the corridor turned out to be yet another lie on Russia’s part. In any case this does not take away the responsibility that lies on the commander of the antiterrorist operation Muzhenko and Defense Minister Heletey for not making timely decisions in order to avoid such operative siege and conduct timely maneuvers which would have allowed to significantly decrease the losses among the Ukrainian troops under Russian attack.

Do we know the number of casualties?

The number is significant, but it would be incorrect and wrong to talk about it yet. I cannot take up such responsibility at the moment. Let us wait for official numbers.

At the moment all Ukrainian servicemen that were besieged have left? 

Not all of them.

Messages citing a Facebook post made by a Russian journalist are being publicized, claiming that Russian troops have been accommodated in Donetsk (“…the officers got apartments, rented out accommodations in the city center. Lots of soldiers. The paratroopers have somewhere to take a shower. Patrols at every corner…”). What kind of information can you offer surrounding Donetsk?

Russia is increasing its numbers on Ukrainian territory. They are openly committing aggression, reinforcing their troops, sending new weaponry.

But the servicemen, the military equipment have no identification? 

None, of course. The signs have all been painted over.

Do you feel the Ukrainian army is capable of countering such forces at the moment?

Of course it is, we have enough strength for this. We need to learn from the past, we need reconstruction. We need political decisions which would allow to receive military and technical assistance from Western states, as at the moment we are not equal with the Russian Federation. The military embargo on military equipment supplies is still active, it is formally against Ukraine and Russia, but de facto it acts against Ukraine’s interests. Russia has something the Ukrainian army doesn’t have: the contemporary electronic intelligence systems, intelligence drones equipped with thermal vision technology, thermal scopes to detect targets during day and night. Therefore this embargo is anti-Ukrainian only. I hope that under the influence of the colossal casualties the Ukrainian army is suffering in battle with Russian aggression, the public opinion in Europe and the entire world will finally force the Western politicians to stop this hypocritical support of Putin’s aggression and finally employ adequate measures for Ukraine and Russia to fight as equals,” said CensorNET editor-in-chief Yury Butusov in an interview to Radio Liberty.

Last week the NATO stated that the Russian armed forces are fighting in Ukraine.


Source: Radio Liberty

Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina

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