First Battle of Donetsk Airport

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First Battle of Donetsk Airport
Part of the War in Donbas
Donetsk Airport.jpg
Donetsk Airport before its destruction
Date26–27 May 2014 (1 day)
Location
Donetsk International Airport
Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine
Result Ukrainian victory
Belligerents
Flag of Ukraine.svg  Ukraine

Flag of Donetsk People's Republic.svg  Donetsk People's Republic

Commanders and leaders
Maksym Shapoval Unknown
Units involved

Ensign of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.svg Armed Forces of Ukraine:

Emblema MVD Ukrainy.svg Internal Affairs Ministry:

Flag of Donbass People's Militia.svg Donbas People's Militia:

Great emblem of the 141st Motorized Regiment.svg Kadyrovites
Strength
  • Unknown number of troops
200 fighters [6]
Casualties and losses
None [7] 33–50 killed [8]
43 wounded [6]
2 civilians killed [8]

The First Battle of Donetsk Airport took place between fighters 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 Donbas that began after the 2014 Ukrainian revolution. [9] A second battle broke out at the airport on 28 September 2014.

Contents

Background

In February 2014, Russia started the Russo-Ukrainian war by annexing Ukraine's Crimea. In April 2014 Russia began organizing pro-Russian protesters and insurgents in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine. This resulted in Donetsk People's Republic, where insurgents captured and occupied numerous government buildings, towns, and territories in the region. [10] 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 fighters captured the terminal buildings of Donetsk International Airport, and demanded the withdrawal of government forces from the area. [11] [6] They 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 pro-Russian positions. [12] Attack helicopters were also used to target insurgent anti-aircraft guns. [13] Lorries with Donetsk reinforcements were seen heading towards the airport. [14] As evening fell, government forces pushed the Donetsk fighters out. [15] They then launched a counterattack that was repelled by government forces. [16] Sporadic gunfire was heard during the night, making it unclear if government soldiers were in full control of the airport. [15]

The next day, both Ukrainian and pro-Russian leaders confirmed that Ukrainian forces were in full control of the airport, [7] 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. [17] [18] Donetsk mayor Oleksandr Lukyanchenko urged all residents to stay in their homes. [19] 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. [7] [20]

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. [21] 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. [22]

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. [23] The city morgue reported a death toll of thirty-three insurgents and two civilians. [8] Forty-three insurgents were wounded. [6] DPR leaders Alexander Borodai and Denis Pushilin put the death toll at 100, with half being insurgents and the other half being civilians. [24] [25] This number was considered inflated by the Ukrainian government, and an attempt to lure Russia to intervene in the Donbas. [26] Ukrainian officials reported no losses. [7] 15–35[ citation needed ] of the insurgents were reportedly killed in a single incident when two lorries carrying wounded fighters away from the airport were ambushed in a friendly-fire incident by the Vostok Battalion, which confused them for Ukrainian forces [27] [28] [29] (separatist "prime minister" Aleksander Boroday announced that they had been ambushed by Ukrainian ground forces and hit by airstrikes). [28] 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–Afghan War veterans, [31] and world kick-boxing champion Nikolai Leonov who was a native of Dnipropetrovsk.[ citation needed ]

Chechen involvement

It was claimed and later verified that Kadyrovtsy came to Donetsk to fight alongside the insurgents. [3] Although Kadyrov denied that he sent Chechens to Donetsk,[ citation needed ] one Chechen fighter claimed that Kadyrov had given them an order to go to Ukraine. [3]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Donetsk International Airport</span> Airport near Donetsk, Ukraine

Donetsk Sergei Prokofiev International Airport is a former airport located 10 km (6.2 mi) northwest of Donetsk, Ukraine, that was destroyed in 2014 during the war in Donbas. It was built in the 1940s, rebuilt in 1973, and then again from 2011 to 2012 for Euro 2012. In 2013, during its last full year of operation, it handled more than a million passengers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2014 pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine</span>

From the end of February 2014, in the aftermath of the Euromaidan and the Revolution of Dignity, which resulted in the ousting of Russian-leaning Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, demonstrations by Russian-backed, pro-Russian, and anti-government groups took place in major cities across the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine. The unrest, which was supported by Russian military and intelligence, belongs to the early stages of the Russo-Ukrainian War.

The following lists events that happened in 2014 in Russia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Russian separatist forces in Ukraine</span> Pro-Russian paramilitary groups in eastern Ukraine

Russian separatist forces in Ukraine, primarily the People's Militias of the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and the Luhansk People's Republic (LPR), were pro-Russian paramilitaries in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. They were under the overall control of the Russian Federation, and were also referred to as Russian proxy forces. They were active during the war in Donbas (2014–2022), the first stage of the Russo-Ukrainian War. They then supported the Russian Armed Forces against the Ukrainian Armed Forces during the 2022 Russian invasion. In September 2022, Russia annexed the DPR and LPR, and began integrating the paramilitaries into its armed forces. They are designated as terrorist groups by the government of Ukraine.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Siege of Sloviansk</span> 2014 siege during the Donbas war

The siege of Sloviansk was an operation by the Armed Forces of Ukraine to recapture the city of Sloviansk in Donetsk Oblast from pro-Russian insurgents who had seized it on 12 April 2014. The city was taken back on 5 July 2014 after shelling from artillery and heavy fighting. The fighting in Sloviansk marked the first military engagement between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces in the Donbas War.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">War in Donbas</span> 2014–2022 war between Ukraine and Russia

The war in Donbas, or Donbas war, was a phase of the Russo-Ukrainian War in the Donbas region of Ukraine. The war began 12 April 2014, when a fifty-man commando unit headed by Russian citizen Igor Girkin seized Sloviansk in Donetsk oblast. The Ukrainian military launched an operation against them. It continued until it was subsumed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Kramatorsk</span> 2014 battle in the Donbas war

A series of armed skirmishes and confrontations between the Armed Forces of Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists affiliated with the Donetsk People's Republic took place from 12 April until 5 July 2014, and is known as the Battle of Kramatorsk.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Mariupol (2014)</span> 2014 battle in the war in Donbas

During the 2014 pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine in the aftermath of the Revolution of Dignity, the city of Mariupol, in Donetsk Oblast, saw skirmishes break out between Ukrainian government forces, local police, and separatist militants affiliated with the Donetsk People's Republic. Government forces withdrew from Mariupol on 9 May 2014 after heavy fighting left the city's police headquarters gutted by fire. These forces maintained checkpoints outside the city. Intervention by Metinvest steelworkers on 15 May 2014 led to the removal of barricades from the city centre, and the resumption of patrols by local police. Separatists continued to operate a headquarters in another part of the city until their positions were overrun in a government offensive on 13 June 2014.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle in Shakhtarsk Raion</span> July–August 2014 battle of the war in Donbas

The Battle in Shakhtarsk Raion began on 16 July 2014, when the Armed Forces of Ukraine attempted to cut off the Russian backed separatists’ supply lines from Russia. Fighting broke out around the towns of Marynivka, Dmytrivka, Stepanivka, Shakhtarsk, as well as the strategic hill of Savur-Mohyla. It later spread to the cities of Snizhne and Torez. While the battle was in progress, a civilian passenger airliner, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, was shot down near Hrabove on 17 July. Amidst a wide counter-offensive by the Russian proxy forces and their Russian backers across Donbas, government troops were forced out of Shakhtarsk Raion on 26 August.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Horlivka</span> 2014 battle in the Donbas war

The Battle of Horlivka began when the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) attempted to recapture the city of Horlivka, in Donetsk Oblast, from separatist insurgents affiliated with the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) on 21 July 2014.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Second Battle of Donetsk Airport</span> 2014–2015 battle during the Donbas war

The Second Battle of Donetsk Airport was an engagement between the Ukrainian military and Russian military and its proxy forces of the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) during the War in Donbas. An earlier battle in May 2014 had left Donetsk International Airport in Ukrainian control. Despite a ceasefire agreement, the Minsk Protocol, in place since 5 September 2014, fighting broke out between the warrying parties on 28 September 2014.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Arsen Pavlov</span> Russian Donetsk separatist soldier (1983–2016)

Arsen Sergeyevich Pavlov, known by his nom de guerreMotorola (Моторола), was a Russian militant known for murdering and torturing Ukrainian POWs, who led the Sparta Battalion up until his death in a blast on his apartment in Donetsk.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Special forces of Ukraine</span> Ukrainian special operation units

Ukraine inherited its special forces (Spetsnaz) units from the remnants of the Soviet armed forces, GRU and KGB units. Ukraine now maintains its own Spetsnaz structure under the control of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and under the Ministry of Defence, while the Security Service of Ukraine maintains its own Spetsnaz force, the Alpha group. In 2016 the Special Operations Forces were created as an independent branch of the Armed Forces of Ukraine formed only by special forces units.

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The Shyrokyne standoff was a battle for the control of the strategic village of Shyrokyne, located approximately 11 km (6.8 mi) east of Mariupol city limits, between Ukrainian forces led by the Azov Regiment, and Russian-backed separatists, between February and July 2015. It was part of the larger war in Donbas. On 10 February 2015, the Azov Regiment launched a surprise offensive against pro-Russian separatists associated with the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) with the aim of pushing the separatist forces away from Mariupol city limits. The village is located just 10 km (6.2 mi) from the Ukrainian-controlled city of Mariupol, and was used as a launching point for separatist attacks on the city, which served as the administrative centre of Donetsk Oblast whilst DPR forces control Donetsk city. Fighting continued until 3 July 2015, when DPR forces unilaterally withdrew from Shyrokyne. Subsequently a cease-fire was declared in the area.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Special Operations Forces (Ukraine)</span> Military unit

The Special Operations Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are the special forces of Ukraine and one of the seven branches of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, with headquarters in Kyiv.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Timeline of the war in Donbas (2014)</span>

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References

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48°04′30″N37°43′32″E / 48.0750°N 37.7256°E / 48.0750; 37.7256