The War in Ukraine: The Battle of Ilovaisk

Below are photos, as well as an accompanying description from an exhibit that was organized by Canadians for Democracy in Russia and Euromaidan Canada Committee. In opposition to the war in Ukraine, the exhibit aims to reveal evidence of Russian support for anti-government militants, as well demonstrate the brutal and violent nature of the conflict (for more information, please visit http://thewarinukraine.info). 

In this week’s post, both the photos below and the accompanying descriptions highlight key historic moments from the battle of Ilovaisk. 

The battle of Ilovaisk began on August 7, 2014, when the Ukrainian government forces, consisting of regular Ukrainian army units and volunteer battalions, began attempts to retake the city of Ilovaisk from the control of the Russia-backed combatants. Ilovaisk is strategically located between Donetsk and the Russian border, and taking Ilovaisk meant cutting off military supply lines.

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Ukrainian forces made several attempts to enter Ilovaisk during the day of August 18, 2014 and achieved success on the night of August 18-19. The Ukrainian army and volunteer battalions were able to enter the city and raise the Ukrainian flag over the government buildings.

Ukrainian forces made several attempts to enter Ilovaisk during the day of August 18, 2014 and achieved success on the night of August 18-19. The Ukrainian army and volunteer battalions were able to enter the city and raise the Ukrainian flag over the government buildings.

Ilovaisk, August 19, 2014.

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During August 20, 2014 the Ukrainian army fought off numerous insurgent counter-attacks. Street battles took place across the city, and at least nine Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the fighting. Following this, the Ukrainian Donbas Battalion requested reinforcements. On August 21, the Interior Ministry of Ukraine reported that 25 percent of all troops from special battalions killed since the anti-terrorist operation began, had been killed in Ilovaisk.

Russian T-72 tank destroyed by the Ukrainian government forces on August 20, 2015.3

August 24-26, 2014

Ukrainian government forces in Ilovaisk were completely encircled by the “DPR” militants and Russian regular army forces. Ukrainian soldiers started reporting seeing Russian regular army troops on 24 August, whose presence increased in the next few days. A large number of Ukrainian personnel were trapped inside Ilovaisk. Russia-backed militants launched repeated artillery barrages from the nearby villages causing heavy casualties amongst the trapped government forces.

August 29, 2014

After days of being under siege in Ilovaisk, commanders of the Ukrainian forces in the city attempted to negotiate an agreement that would allow them to withdraw from the city.
The Russian president Vladimir Putin in the early morning of 29 August made the following statement:

“I call on the forces of  insurgents to open a humanitarian corridor for the Ukrainian armed forces, who found themselves surrounded, in order to avoid senseless sacrifice,  to let them leave without any hindrance from the combat zone, let them rejoin their families, mothers, wives and children and also to provide medical aid to the wounded as the result of the military operation.”

“DPR” chairman Alexander Zakharchenko confirmed that an agreement had been made, and said that the Ukrainian forces were required to leave their armoured vehicles and ammunition behind as a condition of the agreement.

August 30, 2014. The Massacre

The Ukrainian troops began to move out of Ilovaisk in a column of sixty vehicles. The column advanced 10 kilometres, along the corridor, but was then surrounded by Russian and insurgent troops, who opened fire on the column with mortars and heavy machine guns. Vehicles exploded, and the column was obliterated. The Ukrainian soldiers attempted to flee, but many were captured by the Russian-backed forces. One fleeing Ukrainian soldier described the situation as “a real meat grinder”.  At least 100 soldiers were killed from the ambush, with many more injured or taken prisoner. One militant commander said he had taken 173 Ukrainian soldiers prisoner near Ilovaisk and  would use them as laborers to rebuild destroyed Donbass cities. A Ukrainian official said that, in total, more than 500 Ukrainian soldiers had been taken prisoner by the Russia-backed forces. It is estimated, that over 1000 Ukrainian soldiers and over 100 civilians died in the battle and massacre of Ilovaisk.

Captured Ukrainian soldiers.

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