Ilovaysk, is one of the biggest tragedies of the war in Ukraine. This was the first face to face combat between Russians and Ukrainians troops.
One year later, the volunteer soldiers paint a picture of incompetence and negligence on the part of army leadership.
The soldiers’ plight and their apparent dispatch into battle with little training and inadequate equipment has sparked scorn across Ukraine.
Volunteer commanders have denounced what they say is the government’s neglect.
Last August when Kiev was preparing for a parade, Krivbass battalion was ordered to retake the town of Ilovaysk.
They were then joined by other units: Donbass, Dnipro-1, Kherson, Azov and others. These unprepared and ill equipment men advanced on the fortified positions of Pro-Kremlin separatists.
These units were mainly made up of volunteers, former managers, businessman, farmers, who courageously set out to attack the positions held by pro-kremlin separatists.
For many it was their first battle. They suffered their first casualties but continued their advance.
On August 23d the first reports about the convoys of Russian armored troops crossing the borders of Ukraine reached the headquarters of the Chiefs of Staff.
The chief military commanders looked at these reports calling them “an excessive panic”. No decisions were taken.
On August 24th, at the time of Military Parade in Kiev new sightings of the Russian armor convoys were reported to the army leadership. There were estimated 100 units of armor, tanks, howitzers, personnel carriers, “Grad” rocket launchers and also multiple trucks with personnel and ammunition.
No decisions were taken then either. The generals were ignoring the reality of the situation.
Russians were closing in on the Ukrainian troops in Ilovaysk. Surprisingly the media in Kiev started accusing the units of volunteers of cowardice and of abandoning their positions. But this was not true as they remained in their positions.
The activists and relatives of the soldiers were protesting in Kiev, demanding that reinforcements be sent immediately to help the surrounded units.
August 25-28, the constant barrages of Russian artillery were weakening the Ukrainian troops. The Ukrainian soldiers remained in their positions awaiting orders from the chief military commanders.
The situation was dire but even then the army leadership was reluctant to order the Ukrainian troops to withdraw.
Retreat finally started on August 28th. Ukrainian troops simply had to storm their way through Russian artillery fire and sadly many of them perished.
A year has passed. Since then a Parliamentary Committee was created to conduct the investigation into the inadequate response of chief military commanders to the situation.
There has yet been any conclusive report regarding the events at Ilovaysk. The Committee is blaming the army leadership of impeding the process, finding excuses not to attend meetings, avoiding questions, and even simply trying to deny responsibility for giving the orders to take Ilovaysk.
A year later and many are still waiting for the investigative committee to present their report as they continue to mourn those lost in the battle.
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