First Battle of Donetsk Airport

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First Battle of Donetsk Airport
Part of War in Donbass
IMAG2080.jpg
Donetsk Airport before the destruction
Date 26–27 May 2014 (Script error: The function "age_generic" does not exist.)
Location Donetsk International Airport
Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine
Result Ukrainian victory
Belligerents
 Ukraine 23x15px Donetsk People's Republic
Units involved

Armed Forces of Ukraine:

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

Donbass People's Militia:

Strength

Unknown

200 fighters[7]
Casualties and losses
None[8] 33–50 killed[9]
43 wounded[7]
2 civilians killed[9]

The First Battle of Donetsk Airport was a conflict between separatist insurgents associated with the Donetsk People's Republic and Ukrainian government forces that took place at Donetsk International Airport on 26–27 May 2014, as part of the War in Donbass that began after the 2014 Ukrainian revolution.[10] A second battle broke out at the airport on 28 September 2014.

Background

The Ukrainian government started an "anti-terrorist" operation against pro-Russian insurgents in the Donetsk Oblast in early April 2014. Pro-Russian protesters and insurgents affiliated with the Donetsk People's Republic captured and occupied numerous government buildings, towns, and territories in the region. In Donetsk city itself, many government buildings were under separatist control. Donetsk International Airport remained outside of insurgent control.

Events

During the morning of 26 May, pro-Russian separatist insurgents captured the terminal buildings of Donetsk International Airport, and demanded the withdrawal of government forces from the area.[11][7] The militants also blocked off the road to the airport. Soon after, the National Guard of Ukraine issued an ultimatum to the insurgents, which said that they should surrender immediately. This was rejected, causing paratroopers to launch an assault on the airport, accompanied by airstrikes against insurgent positions.[12][13] Attack helicopters were also used to target insurgent anti-aircraft guns.[14] Lorries with separatist reinforcements were seen heading towards the airport.[15] As evening fell, government forces pushed out the insurgents,[16] who then launched a counterattack that was repelled by government forces.[17] Sporadic gunfire was heard during the night, making it unclear if government soldiers were in full control of the airport.[16]

The next day, both Ukrainian and pro-Russian leaders confirmed that Ukrainian forces were in full control of the airport,[8] but by mid-morning, machine gun fire could still be heard on one of the main roads leading to the airport. Insurgents built barricades on the road to the airport.[18][19] Donetsk mayor Oleksandr Lukyanchenko urged all residents to stay in their homes.[20] During the fighting, Druzhba Arena, home of the Kontinental Hockey League team HC Donbass, was ransacked by pro-Russian insurgents, who looted the building, destroyed surveillance equipment, and set it on fire.[8][21]

In the days following the battle, anger toward the Ukrainian government grew among some local residents. According to one resident, many people were thinking of joining the insurgency if government military operations continued.[22] Sporadic fighting also continued, with at least one insurgent being killed in a firefight on 29 May. Six other insurgents died on 31 May, after they attempted to retrieve the bodies of their comrades at the site of the airport battle.[23]

Casualties

Mayor of Donetsk Oleksandr Lukyanchenko said the death toll in the clashes stood at forty, almost all of them separatist insurgents, as well as two civilians.[24] The city morgue reported a death toll of thirty-three insurgents and two civilians.[9] Forty-three insurgents were wounded.[7] DPR leaders Alexander Borodai and Denis Pushilin put the death toll at 100, with half being insurgents and the other half being civilians.[25][26][27] This number was considered inflated by the Ukrainian government, and an attempt to lure Russia to intervene in the Donbass.[28] Ukrainian officials reported no losses.[8] 15–35[25][29] of the insurgents were reportedly killed in a single incident when two lorries carrying wounded fighters away from the airport were targeted by air strikes or fell into an ambush, at least one of them being hit by an RPG.[25][29] Thirty-four of the dead insurgents were Russian nationals and Donetsk insurgents claimed the bodies were returned to Russia.[30] It was later revealed the bodies were returned covertly to hide the fact that they were Russian, eventually ending up in a Rostov-on-Don morgue in the Russian Federation.[31]

Among the dead on the pro-Russian side were former Russian Airborne Troops of the 45th regiment special forces,[31] Soviet war in Afghanistan veterans,[31] and world kick-boxing champion Nikolai Leonov who was a native of Dnipropetrovsk.[32]

Chechen involvement

It was claimed and later verified that forces loyal to Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov came to Donetsk to fight alongside the insurgents.[4] Although Kadyrov denied that he sent Chechens to Donetsk,[33] one Chechen fighter claimed that Kadyrov had given them an order to go to Ukraine.[4]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Pro-Russian forces in Ukraine turn on each other with rebel militia arresting rival groups and removing their flags from check-points". Daily Mail. 29 May 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Volunteers or paid fighters? The Vostok Battalion looms large in war with Kiev". The Guardian. 6 June 2014. Retrieved 8 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Meet the Russian Orthodox Army, Ukrainian Separatists' Shock Troops". NBC News. 16 May 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Courtney Weaver (27 May 2014). "Chechens join pro-Russians in battle for east Ukraine". Financial Times. Retrieved 31 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Andrew Roth; Sabrina Tavernisemay (27 May 2014). "Russians Revealed Among Ukraine Fighters". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Jeremy Bender (28 May 2014). "Chechen Militants Are Now Spreading Chaos in Ukraine". Business Insider. Retrieved 28 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Shaun Walker (27 May 2014). "Ukraine says it controls Donetsk airport after fighting leaves dozens dead". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 "Fighting rages in eastern Ukraine city, dozens dead". Reuters. 27 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Jim Roberts; Christopher Miller (28 May 2014). "Ukraine Government Claims Control of Airport; Up to 50 Separatists Are Killed". Mashable. Retrieved 1 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Donetsk Airport Cyborgs". Ukraine Today. 15 October 2014. Retrieved 15 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Ukraine crisis: pro-Russian rebels seize Donetsk airport". The Daily Telegraph. 26 May 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Alastair MacDonald; Yannis Behrakis (27 May 2014). "Battle at Donetsk airport; new Ukraine leader says no talks with 'terrorists'". Reuters. Retrieved 1 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Lucy Crossley; Dan Bloom (26 May 2014). "Ukraine launches air strike and sends in paratroopers after pro-Russian rebels seize Donetsk airport". Daily Mail. Retrieved 1 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Ukrainian army battles Kremlin-backed separatists in Donetsk; at least one civilian killed in crossfire". Kyiv Post. 26 May 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Nick Paton Walsh; Ralph Ellis (26 May 2014). "Ukrainian troops, separatists battle at Donetsk airport". CNN. Retrieved 28 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. 16.0 16.1 Sabrina Tavernise; Andrew Roth (26 May 2014). "Ukraine Forces Appear to Oust Rebels From Airport in East". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Ukraine crisis: Stand-off amid fight for Donetsk airport". BBC News. 27 May 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "East Ukraine city largely calm after battle, rebels seek Russian help". Worldbulletin. 28 May 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Shaun Walker (27 May 2014). "Ukraine says it controls Donetsk airport after fighting leaves dozens dead". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Ukraine crisis: Dozens reported killed in eastern fighting". CBC News. Associated Press. 27 May 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Mat Babiak (27 May 2014). "Pro-Russian Gunmen Loot & Torch HC Donbass Arena". Euromaidan PR.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Alec Luhn (30 May 2014). "Poroshenko vows to punish rebels who shot down Ukraine helicopter". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Thomas Grove; Gabriela Baczynska (31 May 2014). "Six Ukrainian separatists killed around Donetsk airport". Reuters. Retrieved 1 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Sabina Zawadzki; Gabriela Baczynska (27 May 2014). "Fighting rages in Ukraine eastern city, dozens dead". Reuters. Retrieved 1 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 "Up to 100 killed in Kiev military op, Donetsk E. Ukraine - anti-govt forces". RT. 26 May 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. Vladimir Radyuhin (27 May 2014). "Over 100 killed in fierce Kiev onslaught". The Hindu. Retrieved 1 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Peter Leonard (27 May 2014). "Dozens dead, morgues overflowing after siege turns one of Ukraine's largest airports into a war zone". National Post. Retrieved 1 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. Michael Burnbaum; Fredrick Kunkle (27 May 2014). "Ukraine's military retakes airport seized by rebels in Donetsk". The Washington Post. Retrieved 1 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. 29.0 29.1 "Donetsk announces mobilization of medical personnel after at least twenty-four people were killed in attack". Voice of Russia. 27 May 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. "Donetsk militants send 34 pro-Russian separatists bodies to Russia – leader". Kyiv Post. 30 May 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 Elena Kostyuchenko (27 June 2014). "Battle for Donetsk airport: the story of one Russian fighter". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. "World champion in kick-boxing is among victims at Donetsk airport". Voice of Russia. 31 May 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. "'Chechens in Donetsk?! I didn't order it, tell me more' – Kadyrov on CNN report". RT. 26 May 2014. Retrieved 31 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

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