Anti-Terrorist Operation forces could have stopped the columns of militants during their leaving Slovyansk and Kramatorsk on July 5, 2014. Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council Serhiy Krivonos, who managed the Kramatorsk airfield defence in 2014, announced this.

“Holding some information from our sources in Slovyansk and Kramatorsk, we understood that they would leave. This understanding was formed between the 2nd and the 3rd of July. Already on the 4th, it became clear that they would leave the night from the 4th to the 5th of July. We actively conducted observation and gave coordinates directly from the night movement of the column, the daytime location of the enemy in Kramatorsk and then at the exit of Girkin’s columns from Kramatorsk. These coordinates were supplied. Yet they were not used,” Krivonos told.

At the same time, according to the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in 2014-2019, Viktor Muzhenko, the shelling of militant columns was not carried out because of the risk to the residents’ lives. “First of all, the artillery use was problematic, because there were already maximum distances of possible artillery damage, and even beyond them. What if we used bomber or ground-attack air force? What could be the consequences? Without understanding who’s below there. We are already accused of many issues that we acted, notionally, inadequately to the situation. That is, much more efforts and resources were used than was needed. But if it had been confirmed by mass fatalities? What would have been the attitude to the anti-terrorist operation forces and how would the situation has been assessed for each serviceman who took part in it? This is a matter of serious responsibility, ” Muzhenko said.

To recap, the fighters’ groups who had captured Sloviansk, managed a nighttime escape between July 4 and July 5, 2014. First, the columns moved to neighbouring Kramatorsk and then headed for Donetsk. The anti-terrorist operation forces regained control over Slovyansk and Kramatorsk on July 5, 2014. The militant groups left these settlements at that time. The 6th anniversary of the Slovyansk and Kramatorsk liberation was celebrated on Sunday, July 5.

Natalia Tolub

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