Battle of Popasna

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Battle of Popasna
Part of the battle of Donbas in the Russian invasion of Ukraine
Date3 March [1] – 7 May 2022
(2 months and 4 days)
Location 48°37′N38°21′E / 48.617°N 38.350°E / 48.617; 38.350
Result Russian victory [2] [3]
Belligerents

Flag of Russia.svg  Russia

Flag of Ukraine.svg  Ukraine
Commanders and leaders
Flag of Russia.svg Yevgeny Prigozhin Flag of Ukraine.svg Hennadiy Shcherbak 
Units involved

PMC Wagner Center logo.png PMC Wagner

Flag of National Guard of the Russian Federation.svg National Guard of Russia
Patch of the People's Militia of Lugansk People's Republic.svg LPR People's Militia

Ensign of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.svg  Ukrainian Armed Forces

Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown

The battle of Popasna was a military engagement during the Eastern Ukraine campaign as part of the Battle of the Donbas, the battle began on 3 March 2022 and ended on 7 May 2022. [1]

Contents

Background

Popasna is an important regional hub with many roadway junctions key to Separatist forces during the war in Donbas and the Russian advance during the Eastern Ukraine campaign as part of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Protracted battles had taken place throughout the years of the Donbas conflict, with clashes between Ukrainian and Separatist forces being frequent every year, prior to the full-scale invasion by Russia in early 2022, Ukrainian forces held a number of settlements around the agglomeration, this included the city itself, the villages of Troitske, and Novooleksandrivka, and the towns of Hirske, Novotoshkivske, and Zolote. Before the invasion, the city had a population of approximately 22,000 people. [5]

Battle

Ukrainian prisoners in Popasna. Ukrainian prisoners in Popasna.png
Ukrainian prisoners in Popasna.

Clashes for the heavily fortified city began around 3 March 2022. [7] Regionally, troops of the Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) and the Russian Armed Forces advanced and captured Kreminna farther to the north on 18 April. They later began advancing towards Popasna on the southern axis and Rubizhne along the southern axis.[ citation needed ]

In mid-April, Russian and LPR troops launched artillery and air strikes on Ukrainian positions in the Popasna area. As clashes and shelling continued, civilians living in frontline areas fled to basements for shelter. However, by 18 April, according to the Institute for the Study of War, the Russian military was making little progress on the ground. According to pro-Russian sources, Russian-LPR forces launched more artillery and missile barrages in the region on 20 April following nighttime Ukrainian counterattacks. The same day, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov claimed Hennadii Shcherbak, a "Ukrainian nationalist that collaborated with NATO instructors" was killed in Popasna. [8] [9]

On 21 April, Ukraine's 24th Mechanized Brigade, one of the main units defending the sector, claimed to have killed what appeared to be a 25-man unit of pro-Russian foreign mercenaries in overnight clashes in and around Popasna. Oleksiy Danilov, head of Ukraine's National Security Council, said Libyan and Syrian identification documents were purportedly recovered from the bodies of the unit. The 24th Mechanized Brigade said it had successfully repelled their assault and suggested the militants were foreign fighters of private military company Wagner Group and Russian citizens of rural origins. Danilov said Popasna remained under full Ukrainian control, however the chairman of the Luhansk Regional Administration, Serhiy Haidai, said heavy fighting continued for the city. [10]

On 22 April, Serhiy Haidai declared that the Russian army had failed in Popasna and Rubizhne. At the same time, Haidai said that Russian and LPR troops controlled 80 percent of the territory of Luhansk. [11] However, two weeks later on 7 May, the city was reportedly captured by Russian mercenary forces from Wagner Group. The city had been ravaged by the fighting and Chechen Kadyrovites were suspected of having participated in the last phase of the battle. Haidai confirmed Ukrainian troops had withdrawn. [12] [3]

On 7 May, Haidai initially said in his Telegram channel that the Russians controlled only half of the city, [12] but later admitted Ukrainian forces had withdrawn from Popasna. [13] Western assessments considered Popasna to be fully under Russian control. According to the pro-Russian Telegram channel RIA FAN, Russian and LPR forces began setting up a new Russian-backed government in the city and continued to advance westward as part of the larger offensive. [14]

Aftermath

In August, a video and photos of the head and hands of a Ukrainian prisoner of war stuck on poles appeared. The video showed the mutilated body of the captured soldier and then his head stuck on a wooden pole with his hands on metal spikes on either side of it, in front of the garden of a house. The footage was seemingly taken in late July and geolocation showed it was close to the center of Popasna; a sign on a wall of one of the photos showed "21 Nahirna Street". The video and photos were published by Haidai in his Telegram channel along with the comments "They really are orcs. Twenty-first century, occupied Popasna, human skull on the fence" and "There is nothing human about the Russians. We are at war with non-humans." Reactions to the video in social media were harsh. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an exiled Russian businessman, described the image as an example of the "Russian world", a propaganda term used by the Russian authorities to refer to a cultural and political union of Russian-speakers. Olexander Scherba, former ambassador of Ukraine to Austria, described the event as a war crime. [15]

See also

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References

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