Donetsk Airport defender: “Militants attacking the Airport in the spring and summer 2014 were doomed”. Part 1.
Yehor Krushynin, The Fakty (Donetsk).
Parents who worried abut their children telephoned commanders all the summer and asked to demobilize their children whose military service had already finished. Halyna, my interlocutor’s mother, visited her son’s regiment as well, but he answered: “I took the military oath promising to defend Ukraine and I am going to do this. Our commander does not leave, the guys do not leave, so I am staying here as well.” Not everyone was able to endure that. Soldiers slept in bulletproof vests, they did not take them off even at night.
“There was a powerful artillery shelling on June 21, 2014, and several contract soldiers ran away after it”, remembers volunteer Halyna, one of the soldiers’ mothers. “I was calling “DPR” hot line, without understanding what kind of “young republic” it was — I had not taken part in their rallies and “referendums”. I was trying to tell them that there were our guys from the Donetsk region in the Airport and I asked them not to shell those guys. I got the answer that the boys had to surrender. And they continued shelling.”
“It was risky to be in the bomb shelter all the time, it was a mousetrap which could be hit with grenades”, tells us “Fifteenth”. “They were constantly covering us with machine-gun fire, “Grads” and self-propelled artillery platforms.”
All kinds of “parlamentarians” and “soldiers’ mothers” from the separatists’ side came to the gate of our regiment asking our commanders “to let the kids go home” and surrender the territory. On June 29, 2014 there was even a fake message from ATO press service saying that the regiment had been surrendered. It turned out later that only the staff which was ten kilometres away left their positions under “DPR” pressure. The servicemen remained on their positions.
“We were attacked not only by “militants”, there were also former convicts who had been freed and used by separatists for “fighting reconnaissance”, there were GRU officers as well”, remembers “Fifteenth”.
“Mum, we are being shelled with “Grads”. Probably, I will never see you again”.
One day “parlamentarians” of the so-called “Donetsk people’s republic” came again and, as usual, suggested the servicemen to surrender the regiment.
“Fifteenth” witnessed their dialogue with the commander. “We will come with the flag of the republic, make a corridor and your boys will come out”, told they to the commander. “Of course, you may come”, said he. “I will shove your flag in your ass”.
Next day “DPR” press service announced live seizure of the regiment, calling it “the act of volunteer capitulation”. Shooting crews of Russian TV channels, fake “soldiers’ mothers”, who had to meet their “sons” near the gates of the regiment and “take them home”, were packed into buses at night and taken to the venue. However, instead of propaganda, Russian TV channels showed a report about the First Channel (Russia) cameraman’s death (68-year-old Anatoliy Klyan). Vladimir Makovych, “DPR supreme council speaker” who organized that “live broadcast” was arrested that day.
“We had no idea that there were journalists in the bus which was trying to penetrate onto the territory of the regiment. Our mothers were at home at that time, all the servicemen called their families regularly. Our commander saw that the driver of the bus was wearing camouflage gear and had a ribbon of St. George and a gun, so he told us to shoot near them to “scare” them a little.” We opened fire trying to hit the wheels with automatic gun fire. It was dark and maybe we wounded one of the people in the bus.
The only time when the occupants managed to break through to the territory of the regiment was at the end of August, 2014. They got through the fist defense line and captured several soldiers. However, the second defense line opened fire and made the enemy withdraw.
“Son I could not brought my children food from Donetsk any more and i had to ask volunteers who delivered all the necessary things from the territory which was controlled by Ukraine”, remembers Halyna. “It was more and more difficult to get in touch with my son. On September 6, he phoned me and said “Mum, they are shelling us with “Grads”, I will probably not see you again.” Fortunately, he survived. I was told that my son had been taken to Kharkiv with shell shock. I went there...”
After the hospital, “Fifteenth” became a contract soldier. As a serviceman he was able to pay for university which he graduated from this year. The combatant status he got only several months ago, in February, for military service in the Luhansk region. Nothing is said in the documents about the military service in an air defense military unit in Avdiivka vicinity, though several soldiers were wounded and one perished there.
“Neither my son, nor I were able to return home, to the occupied territory as everyone knew there that we were “traitors”, says Halyna. “My son was on the front line and I took food to his comrades in arms, everyone knows about that. I rented a flat in Kharkiv and started looking after an senior man to ay the rent. In the spring I suddenly started to feel so tired that I could not even walk to work. It turned out that I am suffering from a serious blood disease."
Halyna is fighting an oncological disease now.
Р. S. The commander of the unit which was defending Donetsk Airport at the beginning of the war, asked us not to call him a “cyborg”. Donetsk Airport defenders got this name only at the end of Septemnber 2014 and “Redoute” was there till August 29, 2014. When he was leaving, he gave the call name to an officer who replaced him. Later, the officer became the Hero of Ukraine.
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