The heroic defense of Donetsk Airport named after Serhiy Prokofyev began two years ago.
Everyone knows that Donetsk Airport defense operation lasted for 242 days, but only a small number of people know that from May 31 to July 23, 2014, the Airport defenders were sieged. The commander of the military unit who was in charge of the Airport defense, conscript soldier of radio technical air defense forces regiment and his mum who is a volunteer tell the readers about the first months of the cщnfrontation.
“All captured separatists had been imprisoned several times previously”
The blockade was broken by the intelligence of the 93rd Mechanized Brigade who organized a corridor to the Airport”, says the Airport defense commander who has a call name “Redoute” at that time. “The commander of that Brigade was the first one to get through to us by his APC, his call name was “Barbarian”. He brought us some necessary things and took one dead soldier from us. We asked volunteers who sent “humanitarian aid” to the strongholds which were close to the Airport: “Please, bring us some bread or yeast”. Later, we baked that bread on fire. We were trying to save fuel for generators which helped us stay in touch with the outer world, electric power supply to Donetsk Airport was cut off. There remained some water in fire hydrants.
We had all the necessary ingredients to bake bread as there was some food stored at the Airport.
The commander jokes: “Together with other commanders we “sorted out” Duty Free shops assortment and eliminated all spirits from it. If our soldiers had had free access to elite spirits, Donetsk Airport would not have been able to sustain for 242 days. We loaded all those treasures into a truck which was taken to a secret place, but separatists’ shell suddenly hit it. The rest of the food we were eating while being there.”
The first defenders of Donetsk Airport had enough weapons. Ammunition was brought by air as close to the Airport as possible and dropped there by paratroopers. Servicemen from the seized Airport managed to collect it. How they managed to get to those “parcels” though occupied roads and villages is still a top secret.
“They were waving their hands at separatists, went through and collected the ammunition”, says “Redoute”, smiling enigmatically. “We even managed to share some of it with air defense forces that were located nearby and they shared the food which had been brought by volunteers with us.”
My interlocutor is sure that the so-called “militants” who were sent to conduct assaults on Donetsk Airport in the spring and summer 2014, were doomed.
“We were catching diversionists who were trying to get to our positions from Putylivsky district nearly daily”, says the officer. “All the captives had been imprisoned several times before and all of them had one and the same legend: “We were sent to clear the territory of mines.” Which actually means that they were sent there to be killed. Having questioned the next “spy” we used to take him to the end of the runway (Pisky or Putylivka vicinity) and let him go. I do not know if they managed to get back to their units through booby traps which militants were setting around the Airport. I do not care, we did not plant mines on that territory.”
Separatists regularly tried to break through our defense line. Heavy artillery and machine-guns were shelling our positions almost non-stop. Military machinery attacked our positions as well.
According to my interlocutor’s information, after May 31, military planes appeared in the sky above Donetsk only once, on July 5, when enemy’s tanks were trying to break through to Donetsk Airport from Vodyane side. Pilots were firing at enemy’s firing points that used to shell the Airport. That was a very risky operation if to take into consideration the fact that all radio location systems located on the territory of an air defense unit in Avdiivka had been destroyed by militants’ mortar shelling.
Ukrainian servicemen still guard the air defense unit in the Airport vicinity. If militants occupy this foothold, they will be able to dire directly at our positions and at the strategic communication lines. The territory of the Airport (42 hectares) can be reached by Ukrainian fire as well.
"There were stools standing all around the territory of unit, we used them to cover the tails of mines and shells that did not explode.”
“The war started at the end of April for me”, says ex-operator of a radio and technical anti-aircraft defense unit, call name “Fifteenth”. “All the servicemen in out regiment were from the Donetsk region: Donetsk, Makiivka, Toretsk, Horlivka. My comrades in arms and I has to be demobilized on April 24, 2014, but after the first serious battle the commander summoned everyone: soldiers of the radio and technical unit, of the anti-aircraft unit, conscript soldiers and contract ones, and told us: “Those who are not sure if they can do this may leave, but I must be able to trust any one of those who will stay here totally.” Some contract soldiers left but all the servicemen of our radio and technical unit remained there”.
Yehor Krushynin, The Fakty (Donetsk).
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