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Battle of Ilovaisk
Part of the War in Donbass
Burned car in Ilovaisk, August 18, 2014.jpg
Burnt civilian car in Ilovaisk after shelling
Date10 August – 2 September 2014[3]
LocationIlovaisk
Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine
Result Decisive DPR victory[4][5]
Belligerents
 Ukraine  Donetsk People's Republic
 Russia (alleged; denied by Russia)[1][2]
Commanders and leaders
Ukraine Lt. Gen. Ruslan Khomchak[6]
(Sectoral commander)
Ukraine Semen Semenchenko (WIA)[7]
Ukraine Yuri Beryoza (WIA)[8]
(Dnipro Battalion commander)
Ukraine Ruslan Storcheus[8]
(Kharkiv Battalion commander)
Donetsk People's Republic Aleksandr Zakharchenko
Donetsk People's Republic Alexander Khodakovsky
Donetsk People's Republic "Givi"[9]
(DPM commander)
Units involved

Armed Forces of Ukraine:

Геральдичний знак - емблема МВС України.svg Internal Affairs Ministry:

Donbass People's Militia

Russian Armed Forces
(according to government forces)
Strength
600 soldiers[7] Unknown
Casualties and losses
400+ killed[10][11][12] 545 captured[13] (acc. government)
"hundreds" killed (acc. volunteer battalions)[14]
300+ killed, wounded or missing (acc. commander)[7]
Unknown number of killed, 173 captured (acc. rebels)[8]
more than 1000 killed (acc. Semen Semenchenko)[15]
300 killed,[10] 20 captured[7] (acc. government) Unknown number of killed (acc. rebels)

The Battle of Ilovaisk started on 7 August 2014, when the Armed Forces of Ukraine and pro-Ukrainian paramilitaries began a series of attempts to capture the city of Ilovaisk from pro-Russian insurgents affiliated with the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR).[4][16] Whilst government forces were able to enter the city on 18 August, they quickly became encircled by the insurgents.[17] After days of encirclement, government forces made an agreement with the insurgents, favoured by Russian president Vladimir Putin, to allow them to retreat from the city.[18] This agreement was not honoured, and many soldiers died whilst trying to escape.[7]

Events

Ilovaisk is an important city between the insurgent strongholds of Donetsk and Luhansk. Government forces hoped to cut-off insurgent supply lines between these two cities, and hence intended to rout insurgents from the city. Government forces made their first attempts to breach the DPR-controlled city on 7 August 2014.[4] Artillery fire was reported in the town on 10 August 2014. Over the next few days, government forces made multiple attempts to enter the city, but were bogged down by heavy fighting with the insurgents.[16]

Government forces enter Ilovaisk

Government forces made an attempt to enter Ilovaisk during the day on 18 August, but failed. Led by the Donbas Battalion, government forces made another attempt to storm the city on the night of 18–19 August.[17][19][20] This attempt was successful, and they raised the Ukrainian flag over the city administration building without any casualties. Ukrainian media viewed this victory as an example of the strength and effectiveness of the government "Anti-Terrorist Operation" (ATO) against the insurgents.[17] As government forces entered the city, Donbas Battalion commander Semen Semenchenko was wounded after being struck by mortar fire.[21] He was evacuated from the combat zone so that he could received treatment for his injuries. Following the flag-raising, the Internal Affairs ministry said that volunteer territorial defence battalions, including the Donbas, Dnipro and Azov, were "clearing" the city of "terrorists", specifically mentioning that they killed "a great number" of insurgents from the Oplot Battalion of the Donbass People's Militia.[20] They also said that reinforcements from the National Guard of Ukraine were forthcoming.[17] After a day of fighting, roughly fifty percent of Ilovaisk was under government control. Governments forces also captured six insurgent, including one Serbian volunteer.[22]

On the following day, 20 August, government forces said they took complete control of Ilovaisk. This was denied by DPR officials, who said that they remained in control. Over the course of the day, government forces fought off numerous insurgent counter-attacks.[23] Street battles took place across the city, and at least nine Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the fighting. Following this, the Donbas Battalion requested reinforcements.[24] By 21 August, amidst heavy and constant fighting, the Internal Affairs ministry stated that twenty-five percent of those from volunteer paramilitary battalions killed since the ATO began were killed in Ilovaisk.[17] No reinforcements for government forces arrived. According to commander Semenchenko, some members of the Donbas Battalion were killed when insurgents flying the Ukrainian flag attacked an ambulance. Semenchenko described this act "medieval savagery".[17] He also said that the Donbas Battalion had been "abandoned" by both the Ukrainian government and the other volunteer paramilitary battalions, both of which largely withdrew from the city.[17]

Encirclement of government forces; Iloviask under siege

The remaining government forces in Ilovaisk became completely encircled by DPR insurgents and Russian reinforcements on 24–26 August, and the fighting continued to take its toll.[7] Ukrainian soldiers started seeing Russian regular army troops on 24 August, and their presence increased over the next few days.[2][18] According to the DPR, a large number of Ukrainian soldiers and paramilitaries were trapped in the town.[25] During the fighting, the Ukrainian commander of the Dnipro Battalion suffered a concussion, while the commander of the Kharkiv Battalion was killed.[8] In response to commander Semenchenko's pleas, many Euromaidan activists in the Ukrainian capital Kiev protested what they saw as the government's "abandonment" of the volunteers fighting against the insurgents.[26] Repeated artillery barrages launched by insurgent forces from nearby villages caused heavy casualties amongst the trapped government forces.[7]

Government forces retreat and massacre

After days of being under siege in Ilovaisk, commanders of government forces in the city attempted to negotiate an agreement that would allow them to withdraw from the city.[7][9] Russian president Vladimir Putin said in the early morning on 29 August that a "humanitarian corridor for besieged Ukrainian soldiers" should be established, allowing the trapped soldiers to leave Ilovaisk.[18] Yuri Beryoza, a commander in the Dnipro Battalion, managed to quickly reach an agreement with Russian commanders in Ilovaisk to establish such a corridor.[7] DPR prime minister Alexander Zakharchenko confirmed that an agreement had been made, and also said that Ukrainian forces were required to leave their armoured vehicles and ammunition behind as a condition of the agreement.[27] At 06:00, government forces began to move out of Ilovaisk in a column of sixty vehicles.[7] The first lorry in the column, carrying dead and wounded soldiers, was flying a white flag. The column advanced 10 kilometres (6 14 mi) along the corridor, about an hour's drive, but was then surrounded by Russian and insurgent troops.[7][18] These troops opened fire on the column with mortars and heavy machine guns. Vehicles exploded, and the column was obliterated.[7] Soldiers attempted to flee, but many were captured by Russian and insurgent forces. One fleeing Ukrainian soldier described the situation as "a real meat grinder".[18] At least 100 soldiers were killed in the ambush, with many more injured or taken prisoner. The Ukrainian government described the events as a "massacre".[8][28] One insurgent commander said he had taken 173 Ukrainian soldiers prisoner near Ilovaisk, in the aftermath of the ambush. He said that he would use them as laborers to rebuild destroyed Donbass cities.[18] A Ukrainian official said that, in total, more than 500 Ukrainian soldiers had been taken prisoner by pro-Russian forces.[2] Commanders of the pro-government volunteer paramilitary battalions, such as the Donbas Battalion, blamed the Ilovaisk incident on Ukrainian army leadership, and felt "betrayed by Ukraine" in its aftermath.[18] According to an advisor of Internal Affairs minister Arsen Avakov, 97 Ukrainian soldiers managed to escape from Ilovaisk on 1 September.[29][30]

References

  1. Lindsey Hilsum (2 September 2014). "Evidence of Russian presence in Ukraine - video". Channel 4 News. Archived from the original on 3 September 2014. //web.archive.org/web/20140903200121/http://www.channel4.com/news/tensions-still-high-in-ukraine-video. Retrieved 15 September 2014. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Russian soldier: 'You're better clueless because the truth is horrible'". The Guardian. 3 September 2014. Archived from the original on 3 September 2014. //web.archive.org/web/20140903215505/http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/03/ukraine-soldier-youre-better-clueless-because-truth-horrible-moscow-ilovaysk. Retrieved 3 September 2014. 
  3. Kate Parkinson (2 September 2014). "Anti-gov't forces in control of eastern town of Ilovaisk". Archived from the original on 3 September 2014. //web.archive.org/web/20140903114205/http://english.cntv.cn/2014/09/02/VIDE1409629683259744.shtml. Retrieved 2 September 2014. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Ukraine: A Catastrophic Defeat
  5. "Pro-Russia rebels confident after making gains". The Washington Post. 30 August 2014. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/pro-russia-rebels-confident-after-making-gains/2014/08/30/8e4d746c-306e-11e4-be9e-60cc44c01e7f_story.html. Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  6. Howard Amos in Moscow and Roland Oliphant in Mariupol (31 August 2014). "Vladimir Putin demands negotiations over 'statehood' for eastern Ukraine". The Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/vladimir-putin/11066574/Vladimir-Putin-demands-negotiations-over-statehood-for-eastern-Ukraine.html. 
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 "Ukraine Suffers Harsh Defeat in Eastern Town". The Wall Street Journal. 2 September 2014. http://online.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-suffers-harsh-defeat-in-eastern-town-1409616541. Retrieved 3 September 2014. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Oksana Grytsenko (3 September 2014). "Survivors recall Ilovaisk massacre". Kyiv Post. Archived from the original on 7 September 2014. //web.archive.org/web/20140907205716/http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/witnesses-tell-about-attacks-on-ukrainian-soldiers-trying-to-leave-ilovaisk-at-least-100-killed-363204.html. Retrieved 26 September 2014. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Pro-Russian rebels take Ukrainian town". 2 September 2014. Archived from the original on 7 September 2014. //web.archive.org/web/20140907124057/http://edition.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/world/2014/09/02/pkg-magnay-ukraine-ilovaisk-captured.cnn.html. Retrieved 5 September 2014. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Heletei States Death Of 107 Ukrainian And 300 Russian Soldiers Near Ilovaisk, Donetsk Region". 14 September 2014. Archived from the original on 14 September 2014. //web.archive.org/web/20140914212655/http://un.ua/eng/article/532645.html. 
  11. "Defense minister: 108 Ukrainian troops killed near Ilovaisk". Kyiv Post. 3 October 2014. Archived from the original on 7 October 2014. //web.archive.org/web/20141007052436/http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/defense-minister-108-ukrainian-troops-killed-near-ilovaisk-366845.html. Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  12. Anna Nemtsova (14 September 2014). "Bitter Survivors and Caravans of Coffins from Ukraine’s "Eastern Boiler"". The Daily Beast. Archived from the original on 31 August 2014. //web.archive.org/web/20140916074658/http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/09/14/bitter-survivors-and-caravans-of-coffins-from-ukraine-s-eastern-boiler.html. 
  13. "Ukraine crisis: Troops abandon Luhansk airport after clashes". 1 September 2014. Archived from the original on 31 August 2014. //web.archive.org/web/20140831132747/http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-29009516. 
  14. Roland Oliphant (31 August 2014). "Fears of massacre after accusations Russians reneged on safe passage for Ukrainian forces". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 31 August 2014. //web.archive.org/web/20140831132747/http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/ukraine/11066256/Fears-of-massacre-after-accusations-Russians-reneged-on-safe-passage-for-Ukrainian-forces.html. Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  15. Peter Dutczyn (27 September 2014). "Ukrainian Donbas battalion commander: 1,000 dead in Ilovaysk operation". Euromaidan Press. Archived from the original on 27 September 2014. //web.archive.org/web/20140927234956/http://euromaidanpress.com/2014/09/27/ukrainian-donbas-battalion-commander-1000-dead-in-ilovaysk-operation/. Retrieved 27 September 2014. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Батальоны "Донбасс" и "Азов" понесли потери в бою за Иловайск" (in ru). TSN. 11 August 2014. Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. //web.archive.org/web/20140819140402/http://ru.tsn.ua/ukrayina/batalony-donbass-i-azov-ponesli-poteri-v-boyu-za-ilovaysk-380844.html. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 17.5 17.6 Lily Hyde (24 August 2014). "Abandoned Donbas Battalion fights on". Kyiv Post. Archived from the original on 25 August 2014. //web.archive.org/web/20140825135333/http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/abandoned-donbas-battalion-fights-on-361886.html. Retrieved 3 September 2014. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 18.5 18.6 Oksana Grytsenko (3 September 2014). "Survivors recall Ilovaisk massacre". Kyiv Post. Archived from the original on 3 September 2014. //web.archive.org/web/20140903200536/http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/witnesses-tell-about-attacks-on-ukrainian-soldiers-trying-to-leave-ilovaisk-at-least-100-killed-363204.html. Retrieved 3 September 2014. 
  19. "Из "иловайского котла" вырвались еще 84 украинских бойца" (in ru). 1 September 2014. Archived from the original on 26 September 2014. http://www.webcitation.org/6SrdeJzYk. Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 "Government forces clearing Ilovaisk of snipers". National News Agency of Ukraine. 19 August 2014. http://www.ukrinform.ua/eng/news/government_forces_clearing_ilovaisk_of_snipers_325474. Retrieved 3 September 2014. 
  21. "Ukrainian troops inch closer to rebel city Donetsk". 19 August 2014. Archived from the original on 25 August 2014. //web.archive.org/web/20140825201300/http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/ukrainian-troops-inch-closer-to-rebel-city-donetsk/article1-1253921.aspx. Retrieved 26 September 2014. 
  22. "Serbian national from Slovakia is captued after the Battle of Ilovaisk". Euromaidan Press. 19 August 2014. Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. //web.archive.org/web/20140819231908/http://euromaidanpress.com/2014/08/19/serbian-national-from-slovakia-is-captured-after-the-battle-of-illovaisk/. Retrieved 3 September 2014. 
  23. "Ukraine conflict: Fierce battle for town of Ilovaisk". BBC News. 20 August 2014. Archived from the original on 21 August 2014. //web.archive.org/web/20140821012048/http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-28866283. Retrieved 30 August 2014. 
  24. Richard Balmforth (20 August 2014). "Street Battles in Eastern Ukraine Town Kill Nine: Ministry". Business Insider/Reuters. Archived from the original on 25 September 2014. //web.archive.org/web/20140925234117/http://www.businessinsider.com/r-street-battles-in-eastern-ukraine-town-kill-nine-ministry-2014-8. Retrieved 2 September 2014. 
  25. "Donetsk militias encircle Ukrainian troops near Ilovaisk". 26 August 2014. Archived from the original on 3 September 2014. //web.archive.org/web/20140903181605/http://en.itar-tass.com/world/746720. Retrieved 2 September 2014. 
  26. "Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 28 August 2014". Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. 29 August 2014. Archived from the original on 15 September 2014. //web.archive.org/web/20140915193808/http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/123065. Retrieved 3 September 2014. 
  27. "Eastern Ukraine rebel leader agrees to let encircled Ukraine troops leave". 29 August 2014. Archived from the original on 30 August 2014. //web.archive.org/web/20140830113435/http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/29/us-ukraine-crisis-zakharchenko-idUSKBN0GT0AR20140829. Retrieved 1 October 2014. 
  28. "Russian forces strengthening positions in Ukraine - Kiev military". 2 September 2014. Archived from the original on 3 September 2014. //web.archive.org/web/20140903104117/http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/09/02/uk-ukraine-crisis-casualties-idUKKBN0GX0W420140902. Retrieved 2 September 2014. 
  29. "97 soldiers of "Donbas" battalion break siege near Ilovaisk". The National Radio Company of Ukraine. 1 September 2014. Archived from the original on 2 September 2014. //web.archive.org/web/20140902123458/http://www.nrcu.gov.ua/en/148/575646/. Retrieved 5 September 2014. 
  30. "Kyiv says over 50 soldiers break siege near Ilovaisk". Kyiv Post. 1 September 2014. Archived from the original on 2 September 2014. //web.archive.org/web/20140902231657/http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/kyiv-says-over-50-soldiers-break-siege-near-ilovaisk-362812.html. Retrieved 5 September 2014. 

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