Aidar Battalion

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Aidar Battalion
Ukrainian: 24-й батальйон територіальної оборони «Айдар»
24-й БТрО ЗСУ «Айдар».png
Unit insignia
Active 2014–2015
In March 2015 the battalion was transformed into the 24th Separate Assault Battalion[1]
Country  Ukraine
Allegiance Ministry of Defense
Type Battalion of Territorial Defense (BTD)
Size <300[2]
Motto
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Serhiy Melnychuk
Aidar Battalion in Luhansk region, 2 August 2014

Aidar Battalion was a Territorial Defense Battalion of Ukraine, a volunteer military detachment of Ukraine's Ministry of Defense. The battalion took part in the war in Eastern Ukraine, and had roughly 400 members. The unit was known for links to the far-right.[3][4]

The battalion was formally disbanded on 2 March 2015 and reorganized as the 24th Separate Assault Battalion of the Ukrainian Army.[5][6][1]

History

Aidar was a Territorial Defense Battalion of Ukraine, the first of its kind to be established.[7] It was one of several volunteer battalions publicly supported by Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi.[8]

In the 2014 Ukrainian parliamentary election, former Aidar commander, Serhiy Melnychuk,[9] became a member of the Verkhovna Rada representing the Radical Party of Oleh Lyashko; he ranked third on the party's election list.[10][11] The commander of Aidar's second battalion, Ihor Lapin, is an MP for People's Front after winning a constituency seat in Lutsk in the same election.[12][13]

On 8 August 2014 Ukraine's Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey stated that the battalion would be reorganised, would receive better equipment and would see more combat missions.[14] Melnychuk has described that order as "criminal," but has admitted that most of Aidar's soldiers had demobilized or come under official control by 2015.[15]

Several dozen Aidar fighters were killed in an ambush south of Shchastya after the announcement of the ceasefire on 6 September 2014.[16]

Late January and early February 2015 the battalion picketed several government buildings; which escalated into clashes.[1]

Aidar was formally disbanded on 2 March 2015 "to prevent illegal actions of some representatives of volunteer units" (according to the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces).[1] After a "careful selection of soldiers"it was then reorganized as the 24th Separate Assault Battalion of the Ukrainian Army.[1] Lieutenant Colonel Yevhen Ptashnik was appointed as commander of the battalion.[1]

Members and structure

The Aidar Battalion consisted of volunteers from Lviv, Chernihiv, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Crimea, Kiev, Ivano-Frankivsk and Donetsk regions. It included a member of the Luhansk Oblast's legislature, a former mayor of Oleksandrivsk, and self-defense activists from the Euromaidan protests in Kiev.[17] In June 2014, it had around 400 members.[18]

The battalion had several subdivisions:

  • Kholodnyi Yar
  • Company "West"
  • Afgan company
  • Volyn company
  • Autorota
  • Golden company

Allegations of human rights violations and war crimes

In July 2014, Russia began a criminal investigation of Aidar's commander, Serhiy Melnychuk, for "organizing the killing of civilians".[19] Its volunteer pilot, Nadiya Savchenko, was captured by pro-Russian separatists near Luhansk, transported to Russia and charged with killing two Russian journalists.[20][21]

On 8 September 2014 Amnesty International claimed that the Battalion had committed war crimes, including abductions, unlawful detention, ill-treatment, theft, extortion, and possible executions.[16]

On 24 December 2014, Amnesty International reported that the unit was blocking humanitarian aid from Ukraine reaching the population of the separatist-controlled areas. Over half the population in these areas depend on food aid. According to Amnesty International, the Aidar, Donbass and Dnipro-1 battalions say they are blocking the aid because they "believe food and clothing are ending up in the wrong hands and may be sold instead of being given as humanitarian aid."[22] Denis Krivosheev, acting Director of Europe and Central Asia for Amnesty International, stated that "Using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is a war crime".[23]

In April 2015, the Ukrainian government appointed Governor of Luhansk Hennadiy Moskal stated that Aidar battalion was "terrorizing the region" and asked Ukrainian Defense Ministry to rein in its members after a series of thefts, including ambulances and the takeover of a bread factory.[24]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 (Russian) Aydar reformed into a single army battalion, Korrespondent.net (2 March 2015)
  2. "A Guide to Ukraine's Fighting Forces". Kyiv Post. 10 July 2014. Retrieved 11 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "The women fighting on the frontline in Ukraine". the Guardian.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Ukrainian Nationalist Volunteers Committing 'ISIS-Style' War Crimes
  5. In Ukraine, Rogue Elements Defy Kiev and Separatists Alike, Stratfor (18 April 2015)
  6. Nationalist Aidar Unit Reorganized As Assault Battalion of Ukraine's Army, Sputnik news (2 March 2015)
  7. "Ukraine's volunteer battalions: The new model army". Ukrinform. 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Ukrainian Nationalist Volunteers Committing 'ISIS-Style' War Crimes
  9. "Aidar commander: Terrorists know everything". Ukrinform. 24 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Ukraine Votes On Oct. 26 To Elect New Parliament". Kyiv Post. 24 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Poroshenko Bloc to have greatest number of seats in parliament". Ukrainian Television and Radio. 8 November 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Повний список новообраних народних депутатів" (in Ukrainian). Televiziyna Sluzhba Novyn. 12 November 2014. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Data on vote counting at precincts within single-mandate districts". Central Election Commission of Ukraine. 26 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Гелетей хоче зробити з "Айдара" регулярний спецпідрозділ". Ukrayinska Pravda (in Ukrainian). 8 August 2014. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Ukraine Struggles to Control Volunteer Fighter Squads, Reuters through Moscow Times (29 July 2015)
  16. 16.0 16.1 "DOCUMENT - UKRAINE: ABUSES AND WAR CRIMES BY THE AIDAR VOLUNTEER BATTALION IN THE NORTH LUHANSK REGION" (Press release). Amnesty International. 8 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Sukhov, Oleg (15 December 2014). "Diverse Aidar fighters united by goal of defending Ukraine". Kyiv Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Zinevych, Solomiya (24 June 2014). "Aydar Batallion ready to fight even as unit's future remains unclear". Kyiv Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "Moscow Court Sanctions Arrest of Ukraine Tycoon Governor Kolomoisky". The Moscow Times. 2 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Ukraine conflict: Russia charges pilot over deaths". BBC News. 9 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Russia Charges Ukrainian Pilot Savchenko Over Journalists' Deaths". NBC News. 9 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Amnesty International, Eastern Ukraine: Humanitarian disaster looms as food aid blocked, 24 December 2014.
  23. "Eastern Ukraine: Humanitarian disaster looms as food aid blocked". amnesty.org.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "Governor of Luhansk region accuses Aidar of terrorizing the region". KyivPost.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Media related to 24th territorial defence battalion «Aidar» at Wikimedia Commons