The Ukrainian army captured new positions in the rebel-held parts of Donbas over the last month, while suffering many casualties in the last days of 2016.
Heavy battles near the town of Svitlodarsk in Donetsk Oblast during Dec. 18-22 were dubbed the bloodiest in the past five months, claiming the lives of at least nine Ukrainian servicemen, and leaving some 35 soldiers wounded.
“Their infantry troops marched on our positions. It was a full-scale attack, not just a reconnaissance operation,” Andriy Ishchyk, press officer of the 54th brigade, told the Kyiv Post about the fighting near Svitlodarsk. “Our guys started a counter-attack and attacked them from the flank. As a result, we captured new positions.”
In December, at least 20 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 110 wounded in Donbas, according to the Kyiv Post count based on media sources and the information from the volunteers. Official number stands at 17 killed.
Sporadic shelling continued in the beginning of 2017 despite the ceasefire that was announced on Dec. 24. Ukrainian forces have been attacked at least 750 times since then, according to Vladyslav Voloshyn, deputy head of the press service of the General Staff. In the first two weeks of 2017, Ukrainian army lost at least two fighters.
The United Nations reported that 9,700 people killed and almost 23,000 injured and since Russia started its war against Ukraine in the Donbas. Out of the killed, some 2,000 were civilians. Most of them died in the shelling of residential areas.
The following is the list of those known to be killed on Dec. 1 – Jan. 10:
Oleksandr Lukash, 51, a soldier of the 92nd mechanized brigade from Poltava Oblast. He was mobilized to the army in 2014 and served near the villages of Shchastya, Zaitseve in Luhansk Oblast and Svatove. He was demobilized but made it back to the army in 2016. He was killed during the shelling near the town of Krasnohorivka in Donetsk Oblast. He leaves a wife, a son, and a daughter.
Mykhailo Pokydchenko, 27, a soldier of the 128th infantry brigade from Mukacheve in Zakarpattya Oblast. He used to work as a cameraman for a local TV channel. Pokydchenko was an active participant of the EuroMaidan Revolution and then volunteered to the war front in May 2014. He joined Pravy Sektor volunteer battalion back then. In 2016, he made it back to Donbas. He was killed near Opytne village in Donetsk Oblast. He leaves a wife and two daughters.
Andriy Lelyakin, 34, a soldier of the 92nd mechanized brigade from Kharkiv Oblast. Lelyakin used to work for a construction company in Kharkiv. In 2016, Lelyakin decided to become a career solider. He was killed during the battles near Krasnohorivka town in Donetsk Oblast. He leaves a mother and a brother.
Volodymyr Sholomynsky, 33, a soldier of the 92nd brigade from Kharkiv Oblast. He was mobilized to the army in January 2015 and then decided to become a career soldier. One of his fellow soldiers recalled that Sholomynsky saved his life during the battle near Krasnohorivka town in Donetsk Oblast.
“We were hit by a shell from a separatist-held territory and he shielded me with his body,” Oleksandr Litchenko, a fellow soldier of the 92nd brigade said.
Sholomynsky leaves a wife and a newborn daughter.
Viktor Klimenko, 38, a soldier of the 92nd mechanized brigade from Kharkiv Oblast. He used to work for Ukraine’s State Border Service and then as a driver in his native village. He moved to Kharkiv together with his family before he was mobilized to the army in May 2015. He served near Stanytsia Luhanska. Klimenko was killed during the shelling near Krasnohorivka city in Donetsk Oblast. He leaves a wife and four children.
The following is the list of those known to be killed in the battle near the town of Svitlodarsk on Dec. 18-19:
Mykyta Yarovy, 21, a squadron commander of the 54th mechanized brigade from Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. Yarovy graduated the Army National Academy in February 2016 and was sent to the Donbas in April. On Dec. 18, Yarovy’s unit was targeted by Russian-backed groups as they tried to capture the territory controlled by the fighters. The fighters used firearms and artillery. Yarovy was killed by a sniper. He leaves a fiancée who’s expecting his baby. They planned to get married in Lviv on Jan. 20.
Yarovy’s mother, a Ukrainian-Korean, received her son’s posthumous award from President Petro Poroshenko.
Andriy Shyrokov, 46, a soldier of the 54th mechanized brigade from Dnipro (former Dnipropetrovsk). He worked as a medical equipment repair technician before the war started in 2014. He joined the nationalist Right Sector volunteer battalion first and took part in the battles for Donetsk airport, Pisky village and Butivka mine near the separatist-held city of Donetsk. He was wounded twice but didn’t leave the army. Shyrokov went missing on Dec. 18 during the heavy battle until his body was found with gun wounds late on Dec. 22 some 200 meters away from Russian-backed fighters’ positions. He leaves a wife and five children – two daughters and three sons, two of them were adopted. Shyrokov’s youngest son is 4 years old.
Roman Radyvylov, 32, a soldier of the 54th mechanized brigade from Kharkiv Oblast. He joined the nationalist Right Sector volunteer battalion in October 2014 and was one of the defenders of Donetsk airport. Radyvylov also took part in numerous battles for Pisky, a village located close to the airport. He was wounded in 2015 and went home for treatment. He decided to join professional army in fall 2016. Radyvylov was killed while their unit tried to capture the territory controlled by Russian-backed fighters near the city of Svitlodarsk. He leaves his mother.
Andriy Baibuz, 41, a soldier of the 54th mechanized brigade from Kherson. According to Yan Osoka, a volunteer, Baibuz was born in Kuban in Southern Russia, but always joked that he’s not Russian because Kuban’s “Ukraine’s historical territory.” The region shares many cultural and historic ties with Ukraine as the first Ukrainians settled in the region in 1792. On Dec. 18, when fellow soldiers tried to rescue wounded Baibuz during the shelling, he asked them to leave him and try to save a younger serviceman. He died on the battlefield. Baibuz leaves a wife who’s also fighting in the Donbas, a son and a daughter.
Dmytro Klymenko, 36, a soldier of the 54th mechanized brigade from Kherson Oblast. Klymenko went to Donbas in 2015 together with Right Sector volunteer battalion – which at that time was not officially a part of the Ukrainian armed forces. He fought in the village of Pisky in Donetsk Oblast. In summer 2015, he joined professional army and served with the 93rd brigade where they defended Ukrainian positions near Butivka mine, Donetsk Oblast. He was killed near Svitlodarsk on Dec. 18. Klymenko leaves a daughter.
Serhiy Rubanchykov, 36, a soldier of the 54th mechanized brigade from Kyiv. He volunteered to join the army in May 2014 and was serving in Luhansk Oblast. Several days prior to his death, Rubanchykov was wounded and hospitalized, yet made it back to the war front lines. He was hit by a mine during the Svitlodarsk battle on Dec. 18. He leaves a brother who is serving in Donbas with Ukrainian Volunteer Army led by Dmytro Yarosh.
Serhiy Stepanenko, a soldier of the 25th battalion of the 54th mechanized brigade. Stepanenko lived in Boryspil where he worked for a local construction company. Stepanenko joined professional army in 2015 and was badly wounded in battles for a town of Popasna, Luhansk Oblast. He made it back to the frontlines in 2016 and was killed while Ukrainian army captured new positions near Svitlodarsk as a result of counter-offensive near Svitlodarsk. Stepanenko leaves a wife, a son and a daughter.
Volodymyr Andreshkiv, 47, a soldier of the 25th battalion of the 54th mechanized brigade from Lviv Oblast. Andreshkiv was an active participant of the EuroMaidan Revolution and joined the army in 2014. He took part in the battles for Debaltseve, a key railway hub. Andreshkiv demobilized in 2015 but decided to join the army again next year. He was killed during the second day of the Svitlodarsk battle – between the villages of Luhanske and separatist-held Kalynivka. Andreshkiv leaves three sons.
Vasyl Panasenko, 33, a soldier of the 25th battalion of the 54th mechanized brigade from Zhytomyr Oblast. He joined the army in 2014. He returned to the army after demobilization and was killed on Dec. 19 between the villages of Luhanske and separatist-held Kalynivka. He leaves a wife and a 10-year-old daughter.
Vsevolod Ratushny, 47, a unit commander of the 24th brigade from Lviv. Ratushny graduated from a local National Forestry University and joined professional army in March 2016. He was killed during the shelling near Popasna town in Luhansk Oblast. He leaves a 70-year-old mother.
Oleksandr Vinyarsky, 22, a soldier of the 24th brigade from Vinnytsya Oblast. He graduated a local college in 2013 and was enlisted in the army in 2015. He later became a career soldier and was killed during the shelling near Novozvanivka village in Luhansk Oblast. According to Yan Osoka, a volunteer who knew Vinyarsky, he was a kind young man, always trying to help his family – a mother and two sisters – he worked and tried to give presents to his sisters.
Roman Mamasuyev, 33, a soldier of the 72nd mechanized brigade from the city of Alushta in Crimea. He lived in Zaporizhzhya Oblast with his family. Mamasuyev served in the army for six years. He was serving with the 72nd brigade since November.
“He never hesitated to join our positions in Avdiivka despite the heavy shelling,” Ivan Dubei, Mamasuyev’s fellow soldier, was quoted as saying. He was deadly shot in his neck during the shelling of Donetsk Oblast’s Avdyiivka. Mamsuyev leaves his wife and two daughters.
Oleksandr Moroz, 63, a soldier of the Aratta Battalion (a part of Ukrainian Volunteer Army lead by Dmytro Yarosh) from Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. He had worked in law enforcement and for a local steel mill in a city of Dnipro (former Dnipropetrovsk) before he retired. Moroz was an active participant of the EuroMaidan Revolution. Moroz volunteered to go to the war zone then.
Volunteer Yan Osoka said that Moroz wrote poetry and explored his family tree as a hobby. He planned to buy a land plot in a village where his ancestors lived. Moroz stepped on a landmine near the village of Shyrokyne in Donetsk Oblast. He leaves two sons and a daughter.
Sergiy Kabanov, 45, a combat engineer of the 25th motorized battalion Kyivan Rus from Kyiv Oblast. Kabanov volunteered to go to Donbas in the middle of 2014. He took part in battles for Donetsk airport and in battles for a city of Debaltseve, a key railway hub, where he was wounded. In 2016, he joined professional army. He hit a landmine during mine clearance near the village of Troitske, Luhansk Oblast. He leaves a son.
Leonid Provodenko, 53, a soldier of the 72nd mechanized brigade from Luhansk Oblast. He used to live in a city of Mykhailivka in Luhansk Oblast where he worked as environmental protection inspector. When Russia-instigated war started in Donbas in 2014, he evacuated his family to Kyiv. Provodenko volunteered to go to the front line in August 2014. On Dec. 28 near the village of Kruta Balka, Provodenko with his fellow soldiers ran into a group of armed fighters. They opened fire against each other and Provodenko himself killed two. While he tried to cover his group he was deadly wounded. The fighters took his body under the fire and filmed it. The humiliating video was posted on social media. Facebook removed it after numerous complaints by Ukrainian users.
A volunteer Sergiy Kuzan said that Provodenko dreamed of liberating his native village.
“Now we have to do it for him,” Kuzan wrote on Facebook. Provodenko leaves a wife and two children in Kyiv.
Vitaliy Chystov, 38, a soldier from Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. He was reportedly killed in Donetsk Oblast on Jan. 4.
Ihor Klymyuk, 22, a soldier of the 24th brigade from Volyn Oblast. Klyumyk was reportedly killed near the village of Novozvanivka in Luhansk Oblast. He leaves his parents in a village Girka Polonka near the western Ukrainian city of Lutsk.
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