The Ukrainian operation to re-capture Lohvynove village failed due to lack of well-trained reserves, protected communications and coordination. But Ukrainian tankists showed great combat capabilities in deterring Russian army.
Memories about first days after combined Russian-separatist forces cut the M-03 route near Debaltseve.
With the fall of Vuhlegirsk our western flank developed a dangerous hole. The situation was critical because no Ukrainian positions now remained to safeguard M-03, while the terrain permitted enemy forces to advance unseen.
Newcomers took their military oath elsewhere — for example, in the underground shelters or corridors of the main building of our base.
There is a saying in the army: it is more important who your commander is, than in what detachment you serve.
Most of the Separatists attacking our stronghold were Kossaks from the Don region of Russia. Their diversion groups (consisting of five or six fighters) constantly tried to infiltrate the Ukrainian city of Debaltseve.
The official number of Debaltseve POWs, released by Ukraine’s General Staff, correlates with my monitoring and calculations: from 110 to 120 Ukrainian servicemen, including ninety-three from 40 Battalion.
Roman was in Russian captivity for several hours. After the interrogation was over, the Russians took him and the rest of his squad to the nearest Ukrainian checkpoint and released them.
The first Russian offensives at Debaltseve were similar to those made by the Soviet General Georgi Zhukov or the German Nazi General Heinz Guderian in the twentieth century: that is to say, they concentrated as many troops as possible and threw them all into the assault.
Not everyone in our convoy was lucky. According to official figures, nineteen Ukrainian servicemen in the convoy were killed and 135 were wounded. A dozen of our battalion’s servicemen were wounded, and ninety-four were captured by Russian “kazacks” (but released four days later).