Emil's subunit was the most efficient one. Near Debaltseve they managed to find a place where it was possible to bypass the town without losses. At the same time, they destroyed a group of 5 people and took their guns. Then and there I saw Russian hand assault grenades with the effective range of 600 m for the first time.
They also seized the militants' vehicle. I asked the soldiers about it, “Where from?” - “The militants'.” They entered Shakhtarsk in a partially armored “Ural” vehicle. They were followed by military mobile protection — a tank and two airborne combat vehicles; and then the main part of the battalion. In Shakhtarsk they went through the ambush and got into the enemy's rear. There was a short battle: “Ural” was shelled, the driver was wounded; however, separatists got frightened.
The reconnaissance discovered everything what could threaten us, and thanks to them we successfully completed the task.
The same situation was near Mohyla Hostra. I followed our reconnaissance and just and saw a vehicle which was turned over and their 200s.
By the way, in Shakhtarsk, locals came to us and gave us some information; they even gave us a vehicle. They told us, “They are in the center, on the square; it is a 15-minute walk from you. There is their camp. Shell them from your artillery.” - Just the exact words.
However, we did not shell. Maybe, it was a mistake — we should have done it. We could have caused a lot of losses... Out of 1,000, minimum 400 were in the camp. But it was the center of the town, so we did not strike.
The battle took place at two intersections on the outskirts of Shakhtarsk which we kept for several days. While we were defending ourselves at the intersections, we lost two militaries, and a lot of servicemen were wounded.
One more thing happened near Shakhtarsk. An enemy mortar causes us a lot of trouble. We set a task for Emil: to find it and to destroy it. He went there with another officer and three soldiers. They set off in their usual uniform, only chevrons were taken off. The place was not known to us, enemies around, and these five went to meet with separatists for the first time, and the separatists considered them to be their ranks.
The enemy did not expect that “effrontery” from Ukrainians, and our guys went without even trying to hide themselves.
Then they met a group of about 20 militants who stopped them and started asking questions. But the guys knew what to answer because on the eve we had captured several militants, so we had information about the forces deployed in Shakhtarsk and the names of commanders. They asked, “What are you looking for?”, and Emil said that his group was sent to guard the artillery near the school, but they did not know how to get there.
The militants informed them that the artillery was moved to the stadium and showed on the map where it was...
There was also a battle when we were leaving Shakhtarsk. And we incurred losses.
They blew up the terminal as they understood that they may lose the airport
At the End of December, 2014, we replaced the 79th brigade near the airport in Donetsk.
Two battalions were subordinated to me. There were practically no contract militaries; they were mobilized servicemen and volunteers.
They were able to do a lot of things, but before the war they were teachers, accountants, miners, and they were not experienced enough. In January, we had a task to release the airport. For that, we were to seize the monastery in the village of Vesele. Having done that, we could enlarge the zone of our influence and provide the staff inside the airport with everything they needed.
During one of the attempts to enter it, I was with the servicemen of my 90th battalion and the 2d battalion of the 93d brigade who did not know me. So, it was a mixed unit, and for them I was not their commander. I had even to explain to them who I was, and they hesitated, but went with us.
We could not seize the monastery, and there were lots of reasons for that.
First, the decision was made in a very fast way, and we did not have time to get ready. Enemy tanks shelled the terminal every hour; that is why we had to act very quickly. Second, it was a mixed unit with soldiers from different subunits, and their readiness for joint actions was not sufficient.
The aim of these battles in Piski, Spartak, and Vesele, which was entered by the 93d brigade, was to create tactical advantage, to get closer to Donetsk and to strengthen the airport defense.
Even now the airport is just in front of us. If there were no limitations for using weapons, we could inflict heavy losses on the enemy. For the enemy, the airport is like a sword of Damocles.
Luhansk is far, and there is a buffer territory. Donetsk airport is here, and it is in the outskirts of Donetsk.
When militants blew up the terminal for the first time, we tried to release it and get extra buildings to widen the zone of influence. The unit which went to the terminal was headed by lieutenant colonel Oleh Kuzminykh, a very brave man, commander of the 90th battalion. He personally withdrew his battalion and was captured.
I do not think it is worth telling you about the details of the operation because the things have not been over. There is no guarantee that in a month or two we will have to act here. And we will try to implement the plans which we tried to implement there.
Colonel Kuzminykh was captured with a part of his staff. Another part withdrew. One more part got inside the terminal.
New service "Explain Ukraine". This is a daily mailout of five articles which were written about the situation in the Donbas by Donbas journalists and translated into English. Honest vision of people who work in the field is unbiased and fresh which is crucial in the world which is full of desinformation and propaganda. We try to share this vision in out daily mailout. You can subscribe here.