Life in Ukraine. Live, @ first hand.

They are also cyborgs, although media doesn’t speak of them

They are also cyborgs, although media doesn’t speak of them

Paratroopers of 80th brigade standing in front of Luhansk airport, spring 2014

Here is the story told by volunteer organization ‘Back and alive’ about servicemen of 80th airborne brigade who defended Luhansk airport in 2014.

After some terrorists called defenders of Donetsk airport ‘cyborgs’ this nickname quickly spread and was accepted by the media and the masses.

However, servicemen who defended Donetsk airport from Russia backed forces are not the only one who deserve to be called ‘cyborgs’.

In contrast to Donetsk airport, situation in Luhansk one was not so well covered in media so that people mostly don’t understand what serious battles took place there.

So we suggest you read a good story about heroism of Ukrainian servicemen in Luhansk airport told by volunteers who helped the brigade.

Original story taken from web site of 24 channel.


It all started when people still hoped they would avoid war

Luhansk airport cyborgs

The 1st battalion of 80th airborne brigade of Ukrainian Armed Forces took Luhansk airport under protection in spring 2014. At that moment war hadn’t began yet and people hoped it wouldn’t.

The volunteers say that servicemen of this brigade are an etalon of what Ukrainian army should be and communication with them made people to be the same.

In early spring these servicemen took airport under protection. In little more than a month there began hostilities and real battles. For some time militants in the airport could get ammunition, reinforcement and food delivered by plane.

Then Il-76 with servicemen of 25th brigade was downed. In July there appeared a strong necessity to unblock the guys in the airport.

The brigade commander Andriy Kovalchuk led the operation to unblock the airport. During this operation he was seriously wounded but made decision to stay. His soldiers asked him to stay actually.

At that moment situation was extremely bad. The blocked group was shelled with all range of weapons that terrorists possessed including MRLS ‘Grad’ and ‘Smerch’, artillery of all calibers and types.

Not a single journalist could get to the airport, because of this few people could actually understand the seriousness of situation there. Hostilities and shelling were as difficult as in Donetsk airport some 3 months later.

Volunteer help for servicemen was delivered via locals and former airport employees. Some of volunteers perished. One vehicle blew up on mine in June. One woman, former employee of the airport, was killed by Chechens for helping Ukrainians.


In late summer battle for Luhansk airport was like hell


Later situation got even worse. The group that had managed to break through to the airport actually got into encirclement with the others. This was one way ticket actually.

Then situation got worst of all. It was August 31, 2014, everyone spoke about encirclement of Ukrainian troops in Ilovaisk while the hell came to the airport. Previously terrorists mostly shelled Ukrainian servicemen with artillery to provide passing for columns of weapons coming from Russia (the road was close to the airport and the only way to secure it was to force servicemen to hide by shelling).

But in late August there began an assault and its seriousness was incomparable to all previous assaults. Fighters used everything they had except for ballistic systems ‘Tochka-U’. In particular, fighters used self-propelled mortars ‘Pion’ which had caliber of 152 mm.

There was old Soviet bomb shelter with walls of one meter thickness and Ukrainian servicemen tried to hide there. After one direct hit one of these walls moved one meter aside. Till the evening everything was destroyed. Buildings were destroyed, the remaining trees were on fire after artillery hits.

However, the problems didn’t end here. The tank company that was supposed to help the brigade had retreated on its own. Currently this event is under investigation in court. But at that moment in the airport it wasn’t important. The servicemen were face to face with new Russian T-90 tanks.


The end of the epopee


The brigade commander fought for his guys till the end. It was useless to retreat during the day – artillery would kill them all in an open area. Sometimes situation was next to madness – Russian tanks would get in between Ukrainian positions and servicemen had to ‘scare them away’ with grenade launchers and artillery. Sometimes servicemen had to draw fire on themselves to hit the enemy.

They all needed to make it to late August twilights, it was the only way to survive. There was almost nothing left of 13 km perimeter they used to hold. Battles were on every spot where Ukrainian servicemen could hold their positions.

At that moment when people prepared their kids for school in peaceful Ukraine, there was hand-to-hand fighting in Luhansk airport. Some of servicemen were caught but they managed to escape. From 20 people that were packed into vehicle for captives 4 managed to escape, others were killed or went missing.

Volunteers underline that servicemen fought like true paratroopers: ‘If you can’t go – than crawl, if you can’t crawl – than cling with teeth’.

Many of servicemen who were caught captives at that time have not been released yet, many people are still ‘missing’, and it feels like forever.

The brigade commander reported that they would hold their positions if artillery helped them, but if it came to captivity he would have no choice than kill himself.

However, artillery helped and at 08.00 pm after 11 hours battle the enemy was forced to retreat.

At that time some reinforcement managed to break through. It included 2 tanks, one infantry fighting vehicle and one Ural vehicle. Their crews mostly consisted of officers because many soldiers had refused to go for certain death. The Ural vehicle was used to take away dead and wounded. This was the end of epopee.

That was the way the brigade left the airport. That day 13 servicemen of the 80th brigade died, much more got wounded, caught by separatists or went missing.

And later brigade participated in defense of Luhansk thermal power plant, settlements of Georgiivka, Novosvitlivka, Khryashchevate and Bukhmutka road.


Lviv can be proud of its sons


The volunteer emphasize that servicemen of the 80th brigade from Lviv have never done looting or marauding even in the airport when it was clear that it would be destroyed.

The servicemen would not allow boorishness or looting inside their brigade and wouldn’t let others do so.

Lviv land can be proud of its sons among which the brigade commander Andriy Kovalchuk who commanded the airport defense after he had got serious wound, artillerist with call sign ‘Typhoon’ and many other soldiers who show unbelievable dignity and courage in battles.

Here is one of the servicemen, his name is Pasha, he stands next to yet not damaged building of Luhansk airport and holds a night vision device.

This photo is only year old.

Pasha and night vision device


So this is the whole story we wanted to tell.

And now it’s time to lend a helping hand to those brave guys.

Commander of the brigade asked volunteers to buy one or two night vision devices for vehicles so that columns of military vehicles can avoid ambushes and several ordinary night vision devices for servicemen.

Night vision for vehicles costs $6300, the ordinary one costs $3200.

And there is a way how you can contribute to Ukrainian victory.

‘Back and alive’ project can be followed on Facebook and Twitter.

The project coordinator Vitaliy Deynega can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

The reporting is available here.

If you would like to send money via PayPal you need to apply to the group personally using personal messages.

Western Union / moneygram / etc (for night vision devices and rear sight devices):
Irina Turchak + 38 (068) 500 88 00
PrivatBank card for Euro
4149 4978 3611 9455 Mikulsky Dmytro Viktorovych (Мікульський Дмитро Вікторович)
PrivatBank card for dollars
4149 4978 3611 9059 Mikulsky Dmytro Viktorovych (Мікульський Дмитро Вікторович)


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