We knew that the miitants were controlling the ground floor (underground parking). There was a net of underground communication tunnels, and the militants got to the ground floor through them, as we could not control them. There were no upper floors, the first and the second ones. There was the ground floor, and above it some kind of balconies and the roof. During the last days of the airport defense our militaries were inside on the balconies.
When the militants understood that they could not seize the terminal, they decided to ruin it.
Maybe, Donetsk airport was also a kind of a symbol to them too because they were able to ruin it at the very beginning. However, they did it only when they understood that they could not push us our in any other way.
So they use two or four tanks which came from the side of Donetsk, shelled, whent back to get ammunition, returned and shelled the terminal again. They fired at the corners, and the walls were being ruined. The ruins helped them to climb up.
Our militaries were inside. The walls were falling down, and our militaries could not do anythig and could not even see anything.
The militants managed to climb up and to seize the upper floor.
Only when Rakhman was released from captivity I found out what had happened and how. Rakhman said that separatists had drawn very powerful large-caliber anti-ship mines — UN). The mines were dropped from the upper floor controlled by separatists. Just on our soldiers. At first, one of mines did not work; then they dropped the second one, and they both exploded. At that time I was at the control point in Vodyane with other commanders. It is 6 km from the airport. The control point trembled. You may understand what our militaries experienced inside the terminal.
All the details of the blowings up are not known so even now.
There is a very brave and strong-willed soldier in the 90th battalion. His call name is Sever (North). He was the right hand of the commander, Ivan Zubkov, Hero of Ukraine. When Ivan perished, Sever replaced him and helped Rakhman to get to the airport.
Sever says that before this powerful explosion at the terminal, it had been rather calm for two days (January 18, 19, and the morning of 20 — UN).
Our battalions (25th, 95th, 93d) were attacking Spartak and Piski; companies and battalions were working, advancing... During those 1.5-2 days when we were pressing from all sides, it was quiet in the terminal. Our militaries could relax a bit and rearrange their defense. Though our attacks were not successful, the enemy did not know our further plans — whether we were going to attack again.
I think they blew the termnal up because they were afraid of losing the airport.
After the second powerful explosion, we could not contact the militaries. Reconnaissance commander of the 81st brigade Andriy Hrechanov, “Rakhman”, came on foot from the terminal to report on the situation. Then his group, on 3multifunctional light and armoured tractors, went to the airport to evacuate the wounded and to make it possible for the rest to leave the airport on foot.
On the way to the terminal, Rakhman's vehicle was shelled; it turned over; the driver perished. Rakhman's eyes were burnt; practically he was taken out of there.
So, it was how the last attempt to evacuate the people from the terminal ended. What mistakes were made? Why did we lose the airport? I don’t think it's time to speak about that. I understand that everyont tries to find somebody's mistakes, want to punish someone. However, the truth is that everyone there, from a soldier to the General Staff Chief, did maximum of what they could do. Maybe, it was impossible to do more.
Before we started attacking near Spartak and Piski, there had been attempts to release the airport and to weaken the tension, but the enemy was too close, it was so difficult to do that, and the militaries drew fire, attracted it to themselves.
Oksana Kovalenko, Halyna Tytysh, pravda.com.ua
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