News Society, 15/02/2021

Kharkivites Commemorate Fighters Killed in Debaltseve

On February 13, Kharkiv civilians joined the military at the unit site 3017 belonging to the National Guard of Ukraine to honor the memory of perished soldiers in Debaltseve and Uhlehorsk.

The event was attended by former and current fighters of Second Battalion Special Assignment “Donbas,” family members of killed combatants, volunteers and the military leadership unit.

Several speakers talked to all comers recalling the tragic events of early 2015 in Debaltseve and Uhlehorsk. Then “Debaltseve-2015,” the film, dedicated to fallen soldiers and the “Plyve Kacha Po Tysyni” (The Duck Swims Down the Tissina) song was played. The families of the fallen soldiers received medals “For sacrifice and love for Ukraine” as well as volunteers and doctors were honored with various awards.

According to Olena Vovk, the volunteer and event organizer, they have honored perished fighters and invited veterans, military personnel and volunteers since 2016.

“We have values in the Donbas battalion. We are a family. And this can’t be forgotten. Every year we gather to remember those days and our fighters, ” says the volunteer.

On the same day, “Story of Invictus. Continuation” was opened on the military unit site 3017. “The exposition will remain in the military unit for good and will become a part of the museum,” Lieutenant Colonel Oleksandr Bovkun, the acting deputy commander of the unit, informs.

“Our unit was created in 2014 to perform military tasks in the east of Ukraine. On February 13, 2015, our unit was alerted and sent to Debaltseve. About 50 fighters took part in the military operation, four of them were killed. Stories of these soldiers are shared in the project,” Bovkun tells.

“The Story of Invictus” exhibition was shown for the first time in 2018. For this purpose, the metro carriage was designed. Information for this display was collected for about 9 months. It is dedicated to the battles for Ilovaisk, Debaltseve and Donetsk airport. This carriage is still running.

Maryna Polyakova, the event co-organizer, recalls that when they prepared the first exhibition, they were very afraid it might be damaged. “I honestly thought there would be acts of vandalism in the subway. A boy, the son of the deceased, was in this carriage and said: ‘I see that people are reading, a veteran got on, looked back and smiles.’ People are interested in this. And this is very important,” thinks Polyakova.

In 2019, the exhibition was displayed at the regional conscription office. In 2020, the project was suspended due to quarantine restrictions. This year, in addition to the military unit, the organizers are going to exhibit photos in Kharkiv universities.

In the historical room of the military unit, there are two large, full-wall banners: one displays the photo of all Kharkiv residents who gave their lives for the homeland. Information about outstanding dates and fierce battles during the entire period of the war in the east is displayed on the other banner.

Used shells and other shot ammunition are shown in the museum.

This exhibition is crucial as a fixation of contemporary history highlights. In addition, young people from all over Ukraine come to Kharkiv to study, and they should know such important pages of their homeland history.

The exposition is permanent and is constantly supplemented. The opening is timed to the anniversary of the battles for Debaltseve, which is commemorated on February 18.

Reference: In mid-April 2014, the small town of Debaltseve in the Donetsk region resounded throughout the country after pro-Russian separatists seized it. But on July 28, the Ukrainian military regained control of it.

However, the confrontation was just beginning. It was extremely disadvantageous for the separatists to give away Debaltseve, the large railway junction, to the Ukrainian armed forces, and it was strategically very important to them.

The relative calm was observed in early 2015 during the peace talks, but at the end of January the situation worsened and fierce fighting broke out. On February 17, a turning point came, and Ukrainian fighters were forced to leave the town.

According to official data, from January 15 to February 18, 2015, 179 fighters were killed, 270 were wounded, 18 went missing, 7 were taken captive in battles for Debaltseve.

Text: Natalia Ivanova

Photo: Leonid Logvynenko,