Battle of Kramatorsk

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Battle of Kramatorsk
Part of the War in Donbass
Kramatorsk checkpoint of pro-Donetsk forces.jpg
Insurgent checkpoint in Kramatorsk (April 2014).
Date 12 April – 5 July 2014[1][2]
Location Kramatorsk, Donetsk Oblast, Eastern Ukraine
Result Withdrawal of the insurgents,[2] Ukrainian forces regained control of the city
Belligerents
 Ukraine Donetsk People's Republic Donetsk Republic
Units involved
Emblem of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.svg Armed Forces of Ukraine:

Ukrainian Airmobile Forces

Эмблема МВД Украины.svg Ministry of Internal Affairs:

Pro-Russian militants:
Casualties and losses
11+ soldiers killed[4][5]
5 policemen captured[6]

5 APCs destroyed[4][5]
and 6 captured[7]
1 mortar carrier,[8]
1 Mi-8 transport helicopter[9]
and 1 An-2 transport plane destroyed[10]
60+ militants killed
and 3+ captured[11]
11 civilians killed[12][13][14]

An entrenched standoff between the Armed Forces of Ukraine and pro-Russian insurgents affiliated with the Donetsk People's Republic took place from 12 April until 5 July 2014. During the rising unrest in Ukraine in the aftermath of the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, the city of Kramatorsk in Donetsk Oblast came under the control of the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic on 12 April. In an effort to retake the city, the Ukrainian government launched a counter-offensive against the separatist insurgents, who had taken up positions in the city. The insurgents withdrew from city on 5 July, allowing Ukrainian forces to subsequently recapture the city, ending the standoff.[2]

Background[edit]

Events[edit]

The standoff began on 12 April, when a group of separatist insurgents from the Donbass People's Militia attempted to capture a police station. A shootout with police followed, eventually leading to the capture of the building by the separatists.[15][16] After capturing the building, they tore the Ukrainian coat of arms off the building, and raised the flag of the Donetsk People's Republic.[17] The insurgents then issued an ultimatum stating that if the city's mayor and his subordinates did not swear allegiance to the People's Republic by Monday, they would "takeover the city council". A crowd of separatists later rallied around the city council building, entered it, and raised the flag of the People's Republic over it.[17][18] A representative of the Donetsk People's Republic addressed locals outside the captured police station, but was received negatively by the crowd.[17] On the outskirts of the city, some insurgents set up a checkpoint near a local military airfield.[19]

First government counter-offensive[edit]

By 15 April, however, the Ukrainian transitional government had launched a counter-offensive against insurgents in Donetsk Oblast. The Ukrainian Ground Forces attacked the insurgent checkpoint at the airfield, and then regained control over the airfield itself. It was estimated that between four and eleven insurgents were killed in the attack.[20][21] Insurgents made another attempt to capture the airfield on 16 April, but Ukrainian special forces that had been guarding the airfield since its original recapturing quickly drove them away, and took several prisoners. The Ukrainian troops reportedly saw hundreds of civilians and armed men gathered outside the military cordon around the airfield.[22] Amidst the Ukrainian counter-offensive on 16 April, six Ukrainian armoured vehicles that had been travelling through Kramatorsk were captured by the insurgents. These captured vehicles were then sent to reinforce Donbass People's Militia positions in Sloviansk, which were under heavy siege by government forces.[7] The insurgents later offered to exchange hostages, including the local police chief, for weapons.[23]

Second government counter-offensive[edit]

Government forces focused primarily on Sloviansk for the next few days. However, on 25 April, a military helicopter at the Kramatorsk airfield exploded after its fuel tank was shot while it was taking off. Insurgents claimed responsibility for the shooting, and said that they had hit the helicopter with a rocket propelled grenade in an interview with Russian media.[24] Dmitry Tymchuk, a defence expert and director of the Centre of Military and Political Research in Kiev, told reporters that the Mi-8 helicopter pilot had managed to escape with minor injuries.[25][26] A transport aeroplane was also reportedly destroyed.[10]

After having recaptured many formerly occupied buildings in Sloviansk during a a renewed offensive there, Ukrainian forces successfully captured a television transmission tower in Kramatorsk on 2 May.[27] Further clashes between the Ukrainian army and insurgent fighters overnight on 2–3 May led to the death of ten pro-Russian activists, and left thirty injured, according to a local pro-Russian self-defence leader.[12][28] During the fighting, the Ukrainian army was able to remove the insurgents from the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) building that they had been occupying.[29] However, it was reported the next day that the building had been abandoned by the government forces, rather than fortified, and that the flag of the Donetsk People's Republic still flew from it even after the insurgents had been evicted.[29]

This eviction did not last long, as the Ukrainian army abruptly withdrew back to their positions at the military airfield on 4 May.[30] Insurgents then reclaimed the SBU building and police station that had been abandoned by Ukrainian forces.[30][31] During the day, clashes erupted between insurgents and an army column on a road near Kramatorsk, which left one civilian dead.[13]

A Ukrainian army unit was ambushed near Kramatorsk by about thirty separatist insurgents on 13 May. The ambush was initiated when insurgents fired a rocket-propelled grenade at an armoured personnel carrier that had been carrying paratroopers, causing the vehicle to explode. Many soldiers were injured in the ensuing skirmish, and seven soldiers were killed, along with one insurgent.[4] A government mortar carrier was also destroyed in the fighting.[8]

As part of the continuing military operation around Kramatorsk, the army destroyed a separatist hide-out in a forest near the city, and captured three insurgents, on 15 May.[11]

Continued fighting[edit]

Government soldiers near Kramatorsk in April

Fighting continued on 2 June, on the outskirts of Kramatorsk, leaving three people dead.[32] A more significant incident took place on 14 June, when the Ukrainian government launched an airstrike on insurgent positions in Kramatorsk. They said that they killed at least fifty insurgents.[33]

Insurgents attacked an army checkpoint near Kramatorsk on 27 June, and captured it. However, soon after government forces conducted a counter-attack and managed to recapture the checkpoint. The fighting left four soldiers dead and five wounded.[34] During their assault, the insurgents used eight tanks, and mortars. Four government armoured personnel carriers and one mortar were destroyed in the fighting. An anti-Russian source[35] reported that one of the separatists' tanks was destroyed, and one captured,[5] while the number of militant casualties was unknown and there was no verification from the separatists.[36]

A city bus was hit by gunfire on 1 July, leaving four civilians dead and five wounded.[14] Government forces captured the stronghold of Sloviansk from the insurgents on 5 July, forcing them to retreat to Kramatorsk.[37] BBC News reported that witnesses saw insurgents abandoning checkpoints in Kramatorsk.[37] Later on the same day, DPR prime minister Alexander Borodai confirmed that the insurgents had withdrawn from Kramatorsk, and retreated to Donetsk city.[2] Ukrainian forces then regained control of the town, and raised the Ukrainian flag over the city administration building.[38][39] Kramatorsk city administration said that at least fifty people had been killed in the fighting, and that twenty-two remained in the hospital as of 8 July because of injuries incurred during it.[40]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Силы АТО зашли в Краматорск
  2. ^ a b c d "Donetsk rebels in mass withdrawal". BBC News. 5 July 2014. Retrieved 5 July 2014. 
  3. ^ "Seven Ukraine's troops killed, eight wounded in military convoy attack near Kramatorsk – Defense Ministry". Voice of Russia. 13 May 2014. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  4. ^ a b c "'Eight killed' in ambush in east". BBC News. 13 May 2014. Retrieved 13 May 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c 4 Ukrainian Servicemen Dead in Night Clashes in Donetsk Region
  6. ^ "Thirty-one people remain abducted or missing in Donetsk Oblast". Kyiv Post. 2 May 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "Military column 'seized' in Kramatorsk". BBC News. 16 April 2014. Retrieved 16 April 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Ukraine holds talks to end crisis, rebels not invited
  9. ^ "Ukraine helicopter hit by grenade taking off". The Daily Telegraph. 25 April 2014. Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
  10. ^ a b "На аеродромі Краматорська згоріли вертоліт Мі-8 і літак Ан-2 (At the Kramatorsk airport burned helicopter Mi-8 and AN-2)". BBC Ukrainian Service (in Ukrainian). 25 April 2014. Retrieved 30 April 2014. 
  11. ^ a b FRESH FIGHTING BREAKS OUT IN EASTERN UKRAINE
  12. ^ a b "Army kills 10 civilians in Kramatorsk". Macedonian International News Agency. 3 May 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2014. 
  13. ^ a b "Ukraine Clashes Claim Life of Young Nurse". NBC News. Reuters. 5 May 2014. Retrieved 13 May 2014. 
  14. ^ a b In Kramatorsk shuttle came under fire. Four people died
  15. ^ "На Донбасі сепаратисти і міліція влаштували перестрілку (In Kramatorsk separatists and police gunfight)". Ukrainska Pravda (in Ukrainian). 12 April 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2014. 
  16. ^ Humphries, Connor; Grove, Thomas (13 April 2014). "Ukraine gives rebels deadline to disarm or face military operation". Reuters. Reuters. 
  17. ^ a b c "Приїжджі загарбники в Краматорську назвалися "народним ополченням" (Visiting invaders Kramatorske called themselves "people's militia")". Ukrainska Pravda (in Ukrainian). 12 April 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2014. 
  18. ^ "In Kramatorsk separatists set flag "Donetsk republic"". Ukrainian Independent Information Agency (in Russian). 12 April 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2014. 
  19. ^ "Пророссийские боевики установили блок-пост около военного аэродрома в Краматорске,- СМИ (Pro-Russian fighters established a checkpoint near a military airfield in Kramatorsk – media)". Censor.net (in Russian). 13 May 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2014. 
  20. ^ "Up to 11 people killed in Kramatorsk airfield battle". Voice of Russia. 15 April 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2014. 
  21. ^ "Ukrainian troops in control of Donetsk Oblast's Kramatorsk airfield, Ukrainian deputy prime minister says several hundred Russian troops in Ukraine". Kyiv Post. 16 April 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2014. 
  22. ^ "Військові розповіли про подробиці зачистки краматорського аеродрому (Ukrainian special force representative gives details on the operation in the airport close to Kramatorsk)". Ukrainska Pravda (in Ukrainian). 12 April 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2014. 
  23. ^ "Краматорські бойовики хочуть обміняти заручника-міліціонера на зброю (Kramatorsk militants want to exchange the hostage-policeman for weapons)". Ukrainska Pravda (in Ukrainian). 22 April 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2014. 
  24. ^ "Ополченцы Краматорска уверяют, что они обстреляли вертолет из РПГ (Militias in Kramatorsk claim that they fired at a helicopter with an RPG)". Russian News & Information Agency (in Russian). 25 April 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  25. ^ Christopher J. Miller (25 April 2014). "Ukraine officials say second stage of anti-terrorist operation under way in east as helicopter shot down (UPDATES, VIDEO)". Kyiv Post. Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  26. ^ "В Краматорську На Аеродромі Підірвано Вертоліт (In Kramatorsk at airfield, exploded helicopter)". Ukrayinska Pravda (in Ukrainian). 25 April 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  27. ^ "Dozens dead after Odessa building fire". The Guardian. 2 May 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2014. 
  28. ^ "Street battles in Kramatorsk, E.Ukraine after overnight assault killed 10 – self-defense". Russia Today. 3 May 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  29. ^ a b "Tension mounts in Kramatorsk after army rolls in". The Guardian. 4 May 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2014. 
  30. ^ a b "Pro-Russians regain control of buildings in Kramatorsk". Anadolu Agency. 4 May 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  31. ^ "Ukrainian troops withdrew from Kramatorsk". Ukrainian Independent Information Agency. 5 May 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  32. ^ East-Ukrainian freedom fighters advance toward Kramatorsk airdrome amid fierce fighting
  33. ^ "More than 50 self-defense fighters killed during airstrike in Kramatorsk". The Voice of Russia. 15 June 2014. Retrieved 24 June 2014. 
  34. ^ Four killed as Ukraine repels rebels in east
  35. ^ Dmitry Tymchuk's military blog: Poroshenko says without return of Crimea relations with Russia remain unsteady
  36. ^ Four Ukrainian servicemen killed in new fighting – military source
  37. ^ a b "Rebels abandon Sloviansk stronghold". BBC News. 5 July 2014. Retrieved 5 July 2014. 
  38. ^ "Donetsk militia confirm leaving stronghold cities of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk". RT. 5 July 2014. Retrieved 5 July 2014. 
  39. ^ "Government claims full control over Sloviansk, Kramatorsk; starts to fix infrastructure". Kyiv Post. 6 July 2014. 
  40. ^ "Up to 50 people killed in Kramatorsk during ATO". Kyiv Post. July 8, 2014. Retrieved July 9, 2014.