The remembrance day was established on the initiative of Ukrainian soldiers who defended the Donetsk International Airport from Russian-led forces for 242 days.
The Donetsk airport defenders were called "cyborgs" for their resilience and persistence. They became a symbol of courage and devotion to the ideals of free and independent Ukraine.
The battle for the airport lasted from May 26, 2014 to January 22, 2015 and ended after the old and the new airport terminals had been destroyed completely. For 242 days, the Ukrainian military, volunteer fighters, medical workers, and volunteers resisted the onslaught of Russian occupation forces and pro-Russian militants, fiercely defending a small piece of Ukrainian land.
Fighting for the Donetsk airport began on May 26, 2014, when pro-Russian separatists and Chechen militants seized the airport building in then-peaceful Donetsk. On the same day, Ukrainian security forces, thanks to the coordinated actions of the Ukrainian Air Force and highly mobile airborne troops, hit terrorist positions and established control over the Donetsk airport.
Afterwards, the situation in the city of Donetsk destabilized completely, the occupation began and the enemy made endless attempts to take control of the airport, but Ukrainian soldiers did not surrender their positions and held the line even being under heavy fire.
January 2015 saw the bloodiest and fiercest battles. On January 13, as a result of constant massive tank and artillery attacks by militants, the control tower collapsed. Its image became a symbol of the airport defense.
Then the fighting took place on the floors of the new terminal. On January 18-20, the Ukrainian military held the ground floor, and the basement and upper floors were controlled by the enemy. The militants used the truce to evacuate their dead and wounded, mined the ceiling of the building and blasted it. Those days, 58 "cyborgs" were killed in the blast. In total, according to official data, about 100 servicemen were killed while defending the Donetsk airport.
Special forces of the 3rd separate regiment, fighters of the 79th, 80th, 81st, 95th separate airmobile and the 93d separate mechanized brigades, the 57th separate mechanized infantry brigade, the 90th separate airborne and the 74th separate reconnaissance battalions, fighters of the Dnipro-1 regiment, the Volunteer Ukrainian Corps and others were fighting in the Donetsk International Airport and the neighboring village of Pisky in Donetsk region.
On January 20, 2015, pro-Russian militants, without ceasing to storm, blasted a new terminal of the Donetsk airport, ultimately turning one of the country's largest airports into ruins. After that, the military leadership decided to withdraw the Ukrainian fighters. On January 22, the last surviving defenders left the destroyed terminal.
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