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Published in Stream:
Day 928: September 2, 2016
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Prosecutor-General Reports On Investigation Into Failures During Disastrous Battle Of Ilovaisk
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Ukraine's Prosecutor-General, Yuriy Lutsenko, has made several announcements today concerning the ongoing investigation into the battle of Ilovaisk which took place in August, 2014 - perhaps the worst tragedy to befall the Ukrainian armed forces during the Russian invasion of the Donbass.

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The Battle of Ilovaisk: A Turning Point in Russia's War on Ukraine

Today September 14, Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey announced on TV Channel 5 the list of all those killed at Ilovaisk in the worst battle of the Russian-instigated war on Ukraine: 107 Ukrainians and 300 Russians, reported.

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Sep 02, 2016 06:59 (GMT)

During a meeting of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on National Security today, Lutsenko said that investigators now estimate that 366 Ukrainian soldiers were killed, 429 wounded, and 300 captured.

However Lutsenko acknowledged that the figure may well be higher, and appealed for anyone with more information to turn to the authorities.

Last year Andriy Senchenko, chairman of the Rada investivgative commission suggested that the total death toll could approach 1,000.

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Rada investigative commission: About 1,000 soldiers killed in Ilovaisk battle

The death toll of Ukrainian military and law enforcement personnel killed in action in the battle near the town of Ilovaisk in Donetsk region last year may amount to 1,000 people, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada's interim investigative commission Andriy Senchenko said at a conference on Wednesday, Ukrainian news Web portal OstroV has reported.

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Sep 02, 2016 07:02 (GMT)

Lutsenko outlined what he considered, based on testimony from experts, to be have been the main mistakes made.

"Experts believe that all of the mistakes made by the military leadership boil down to a violation of the established procedure for planning and conducting military operations during the liberation of Ilovaisk by the ATO forces."

Ukrainska Pravda reports that Lutsenko said that military planners failed to take account of intelligence data that suggested the presence of around 1,200 enemy fighters, with hardware and fortifications, in Ilovaisk before the start of the operation.

"The use of volunteer battalions in small quantities during the attack, in the view of the experts, was a mistake and a violation of a number of regulations," said Lutsenko.

He also said that after the Russian army invaded, which began before the events in Ilovaisk, the military leadership of Ukraine "did not change their plan" and "did not give the order to retreat or other actions to soldiers."

This matches desperate complaints at the time of the battle from Semyon Semyonchenko, commander of the Donbass Battalion which suffered terrible casualties. 

Lutsenko highlighted the failure to anticipate the effect the order to withdraw trapped forces from the borderland area to the east, known as Sector D, would have on the situation in Ilovaisk.

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Ukrainian Troops Retreat From Russian Border, Leaving 100 Kilometers Open to Invasion

For the last few days all media attention on the Ukrainian crisis has been focused on two topics: the advances made by Ukrainian forces around the city of Donetsk and, more worryingly, the threat of Russian invasion under the guise of "humanitarian intervention."

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Sep 02, 2016 07:32 (GMT)

Acknowledging that the decision was the right one to take, Lutsenko said that the retreat left Ilovaisk open to attack from the east. 

Interestingly, the Prosecutor-General said that witnesses had reported direct negotiations between Ukraine's Chief of Staff, Viktor Muzhenko, and the deputy commander of the Russian General Staff, General-Colonel Nikolai Bogdanovsky.

The two had reportedly negotiated on the "humanitarian corridor," which was, publicly at least, something President Putin called on the supposedly independent separatist forces to grant Ukrainian soldiers trapped in Ilovaisk.

But despite assurances from Bogdanovsky, what ensued was a massacre; they were ambushed by artillery and tanks.

Over the next few days waves of Ukrainian fighters attempted to break out of the "kettle," suffering terrible losses.

As Ukrainian journalist Ruslan Yarmolyuk wrote at the time:

"This morning according to the agreement about the corridor which fighters are to open outside Ilovaisk, the remainders of the 40th battalion of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the 39th, the 28th and the remnants of the 51st brigade of Vladimir-Volynskaya went into the corridor and were shelled by heavy artillery and mortars. The Russian beasts swept from the earth everything that went through the corridor, both vehicles and personnel of the Ukrainian army and part of the volunteer battalions. None of them have gotten in touch and have not reached the gathering place! From yesterday's reinforcement, which went to Ilovaisk, made up of 30 vehicles, not a single one got out; of 300 men, by preliminary information, no more than 10 remain alive! That's it, make your conclusions!"

Lutsenko said that the actions of the Russian military demonstrated their "treachery."

"Treachery in that Ukrainian markings had been placed on their hardware, treachery in that they gave a guarantee of exit, but people were shot point blank."

This evidence, he said, would form part of an international court decision.

At the same meeting, Lutsenko announced that his office would question all former Ukrainian defense ministers still resident in the country as part of a wider investigation into the dereliction of Ukraine's defensive capabilities in the years before the war.

According to Lutsenko, military assets worth nearly 2 billion hryvnia (around $75 million) were sold off between 2005 and 2014, with even greater sell-offs in the preceding years.

Those officials who were not present in the country, would be put on a wanted list.

-- Pierre Vaux