The defense of Donetsk airport by the Ukrainian military in 2014-2015 lasted 242 days. Russian propagandists referred to the Ukrainian soldiers, who held the airfield, as "cyborgs" – a reference to their invincibility and courage.

 Chronology of events

 On the night of May 26, 2014, a group of pro-Russian forces partially occupied Donetsk airport. It took place as Donetsk city and that part of the wider region were already under pro-Russian occupation. The airport was the last Ukrainian stronghold in the city.

 The separatists demanded that the Ukrainian military lay down their weapons and surrender. The Ukrainian government, in turn, issued a counter-ultimatum: they called on the militants to lay down their weapons and vacate the airfield.


 The demands of both sides went unanswered, and the battle began.

 For a long time, the situation around the airport remained relatively calm.

 The Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) experienced its first combat losses in June 2014. Two soldiers of the AFU were killed due to the shelling on June 10.

 In Sep. 2014, despite the "Minsk agreements," fierce fighting began at the airport, resulting in huge losses on both sides.

 The separatists, aided by heavy weapons from Russia, attempted to capture the airport throughout the whole of autumn and into December. The most severe battle began after the New Year.

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 Resilience of Ukrainian "cyborgs"

In January 2015, the bloodiest and fiercest battles took place. On Jan. 13, after almost eight months of daily shelling, the control tower of the airport – the "eyes" of Ukrainian defenders – was destroyed.

 However, the AFU still controlled the terminals. Taking advantage of a truce to evacuate the dead and wounded, pro-Russian militants mined the ceilings and blew them up. Ukraine lost 58 soldiers in this attack.

 On Jan. 21, on the decision of official Ukrainian authorities, defending troops were withdrawn from the airport since keeping them there no longer served any purpose.


 According to official data, more than 100 Ukrainian soldiers were killed during the defense of Donetsk airport.

 Pro-Russian propagandists called the airport defenders "cyborg" warriors. They have become a symbol of courage and dedication to the ideals of a free and independent Ukraine.

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