Russian Intervention in Ukraine: Battle for Iloviask 2014
Russia's Little Green Men
Should President Trump deny the military aid and $250 million in other aid to the struggling Ukraine, it will only weaken the new country of Ukraine, which was formerly part of Russia. Should Trump also be against expanding NATO into the Ukraine, one wonders who is the real benefactor, which we know is Putin. Then there is the denial that Russian soldiers invaded Ukraine because there was no identifying marks on their uniforms or vehicles. This appeasement by Trump for Putin is stunning yet expected.
The War in the Ukraine 2014
When the former part of Russia broke away from Russia (despite all the attempts of Putin) and created a new country, with its own government and military, Putin was angry. To subvert the new government, Putin secretly armed and supplied those supporters who fought against it, the DPR (Donetsk People's Republic). This opposition of various militias would grow to around 40,000 men, which is about the same amount of men in the Ukrainian Army. But with massive amounts of Russian support in weapons, the DPR was a force to reckon with and could topple the Ukraine. For the most part, the West and the USA did little in the way of help for the Ukraine. It was seen mostly an internal struggle between a break away section of Russia that now was its own country. Putin had thousands of Russian units stationed near the border and fully supporting the DPR with long range artillery and missile strikes.
By July, 2014, the Ukrainian military and para-military forces had succeeded in carving up and encircling many of the DPR units in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Horlivka, Debaltseve, and other areas. The West had already placed economic sanctions on the Russia for its seizure of Crimea (which was part of Ukraine) and tossed Putin out of the G-7 group (something that Trump now wants to reverse!).
For the Ukrainians, the situation militarily looked promising yet precarious in some locations. In order for the Ukrainians to prevail, everything had to go as planned with no failures. The DPR forces especially in the Donetsk region were especially in a bad spot as Russian artillery were too far away for support and the main supply line back to Russia through Debaltseve was in Ukrainian control. This left only one other main road through Torez towards Russia, which was about seven miles from Ilovaisk. This was Highway H21.
The Ukrainians were only hampered by the chaotic situations everywhere in this war due to Russian electronic jamming of communications. The DPR still had small groups of men in various pockets all over and about 200 in Ilovaisk, a town of 18,000, that was a major rail and road hub near H21. With Ukrainian forces so spread out, many non-military militia's were used, which would prove to be a mistake.
The Ukrainians strike for H21 was through Ilovaisk. The forces gathered were just police and militias amounting to between 500-900, including some Ukrainian military units. A few artillery batteries provided support. The plan was simply to take the town and travel seven miles to cut H21. This highway was already heavily in battle from the DPR forces from the east and west trying to keep it open. The Ukrainian forces were having problems containing the DPR. Even by the 13th, the Ukrainian situation in this area deteriorated as Russia began to send in small amounts of units of volunteers to tip the scales. These men who volunteered received much more money and should they be killed, their families would receive $40,000. This combination was the incentive for Russian troops from a wide variety of units to invade Ukraine to help the DPR.
The Ukrainian army command would remain in the dark about the trickle of Russian units crossing the border until August 24th. They were in denial about this. They simply would not believe that Putin would send in Russian troops across their border. Even when proof did arrive (captured or killed Russian soldiers, newer tanks) they still could not believe it.
Thus, by the time the Ukrainian attack occurred at Iloviask (the 19th), only half the town could be taken by the 20th, and with the Russian infiltration of military units, the DPR quickly was reinforced and H21 was secured.
The Russians kept coming from the Ukrainian rear from the border. Some Ukrainian units just fled when real Russian troops were encountered. Other units actually fought them and held their ground but soon were overwhelmed by the 4000 Russian soldiers that crossed. Many of the Russians were told that they were simply on military maneuvers.
Once Iloviask was surrounded, the 1500 Ukrainians in it were allowed (under an agreement with Putin and Ukraine) to have safe passage led by a Russian officer, in convoy fashion, back to safety. The convoy was fine for several miles and then forced to split up at Mnohopillya. Once the convoys divided, when one convoy got to Chervonosikske, the Russians ambushed the convoy. Those that escaped made it further bust ambushed again at Novokaterynivka. The other convoy was also ambushed at Horbatenko.
Survivors state it was like shooting ducks in a row. By some accounts, nearly 1000 men were slaughtered in the ambushes.
The Truth Comes Out
After years of denial by Putin, investigations by the Ukraine and former Russian soldiers tell the truth. Had it not been for the Russian invasion into the Ukraine, perhaps, the Ukrainian army might have removed most of the DPR in 2014. Russian soldiers from the following units invaded the Ukraine as volunteers in small amounts:
- 331st Airborne Regiment\98th Airborne Division
- 137th Airborne Regiment\98th Airborne Division
- 1st Bn\1065 Artillery Regiment\98th Airborne Division
- 21st Rifle Motor Regiment
- 56th and 31st Airborne Brigades
- 6th Tank Brigade with T-72B3 tanks
- 247th Airborne Regiment\7th Airborne Division
- 1st Bn\1141 SP Artillery Regiment\7th Airborne Division
Today, Putin seems to be content now as to how the Ukraine situation has ended. Putin got half of the Ukraine via his support of the DPR, which is ruled by Russia. The Ukraine has elected a new president and the country could still be part of NATO.