Battle of Horlivka

2014 battle in the Donbas War

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Battle of Horlivka
Part of the War in Donbass
Damaged apartment building in Gorlivka, Donbass, August 7, 2014.jpg
Damaged building in Horlivka
Date21 July 2014 – 6 September 2014
(1 month, 2 weeks and 2 days)
Result Ceasefire (DPR remains in control of the city)
 Ukraine  Donetsk People's Republic
Commanders and leaders
Capt. Roman Zasukha Igor Bezler
Units involved

Armed Forces of Ukraine:

Donbass People's Militia:

Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown
36+ civilians killed[2]

The Battle of Horlivka began when Ukrainian government forces attempted to recapture the city of Horlivka, in Donetsk Oblast, from pro-Russian insurgents affiliated with the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) on 21 July 2014.


Horlivka is a large city in Donetsk Oblast, north of Donetsk city. Amidst rising unrest across eastern and southern Ukraine, armed men stormed and took control of a police station in Horlivka on 14 April. Soon after this, the men stormed the city administration, and gained effective control over the city for the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic. After DPR forces withdrew from Sloviansk in northern Donetsk Oblast on 5 July, many travelled to Horlivka, which remained under DPR control.[3]


Starting on 21 July, Ukrainian forces made repeated attempts to enter Mayorsk, a suburb of Horlivka.[4] Light skirmishes were reported across the city.[5] A fighter jet from the Air Force of Ukraine was shot down over Horlivka on 23 July, after it attacked DPR positions in the city.[6]

After a lull, fighting resumed in Horlivka on 27 July.[7] Government forces launched an offensive to capture the city, said that they had encircled it. They also said that they had destroyed checkpoints manned by DPR insurgents on the outskirts of the city. DPR leaders said that they maintained control over some positions on the city outskirts. Government forces shelled many residential areas in Horlivka, killed at least thirteen people.[8] 27 July has proven to be one of the most tragic in terms of civilian casualties as result of "Grad" salvo fired at the center of the town with both sides blaming each other. A spokesman for the government military operation in the Donbass said that DPR forces had fired Grad rockets on civilian areas in an attempt to discredit government forces.[9] DPR commanders in Horlivka said that if government forces did not withdraw from the city, they would kill hostages they had been holding, and also blow-up the city's chemical plants.[10] During the fighting, government forces said they killed at least twenty insurgents, and destroyed eight military vehicles on the outskirts of the city.[11]

On the following day, it was reported that seventeen civilians had been killed during the fighting in Horlivka, and that forty-three had been wounded.[12] Government forces continued to shell DPR positions with Grad rockets and mortars, causing panic amongst residents of the city. Black smoke was seen rising over the city's suburbs.[13] By 29 July, many residential districts in the city had been completely destroyed.[14] DPR commander in Horlivka Igor Bezler, nom de guerre "Demon", left the city amidst the near-constant fighting.[15] Government forces tried to encircle the city again on 31 July.[16] Clashes continued over the following days. At least one civilian died on 3 August, whilst 16 were wounded.[17] By 6 August, at least 250 houses in the city had been left without gas service, and many more houses were simply destroyed.[18] On the following day, an artillery shell struck a bus stop, killing five civilians, and wounding ten more. A power station was also destroyed, leaving much of the city without electricity.[19]

DPR forces blew up a bridge that connected the city centre to northern districts on 6 August.[20] This was an attempt to stop Ukrainian forces from advancing on their positions. Heavy fighting continued into 14 August.[21] Chechen fighters that had been manning posts in the city abandoned them on 16 August.[22] Ukrainian forces said that they had once again encircled Horlivka on 18 August.[23] Despite this, fighting continued. A broad counter-offensive by DPR forces across the Donbass pushed Ukrainian forces back in many areas over the course of late August. During fighting in Horlivka and nearby Ilovaisk on 27 August, Ukrainian forces said that they killed 200 insurgents.[24]

Despite a ceasefire signed on 5 September, DPR forces said that Ukrainian forces were shelling their positions in Horlivka on 6 September.[25] The ceasefire held, none-the-less.

In 2017 the town established a memorial to victims of the conflict. According to the official data over 3 days the fighting took lives of 235 civilians, including 22 children. One of the victims, Kristina Zhuk who was killed with an infant, was widely described in Russian media as "Madonna from Gorlovka".[26]


  1. ^ "Prisoners of 'Demon' in war-torn Ukraine". BBC. 9 August 2014.
  2. ^ "About 36 people die in Horlivka on July 27–29". Kyiv Post. 30 July 2014.
  3. ^ "Pro-Kremlin Rebels Flee Stronghold as Ukraine Military Campaign Escalates".
  4. ^ "Ukrainian government forces enter Horlivka suburb". Kyiv Post. 21 July 2014.
  5. ^ "Anti-Terrorist Operation: Summary for July 21, 2014".
  6. ^ "East Ukraine militias shoot down two jets of Ukrainian Air Force". Information Telegraph Agency of Russia. 23 July 2014.
  7. ^ "Ukrainian Forces Battle For Horlivka". Morning Star. 21 July 2014. Archived from the original on 28 July 2014. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  8. ^ "Fighting rages in Ukraine town; 2 children among 13 dead". CNN. 27 July 2014.
  9. ^ "АТО: В Горловке боевики устроили кровавый теракт". Украинская правда (in Russian). Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  10. ^ "Terrorists issue ultimatum in Horlivka". Euromaidan Press. 27 July 2014.
  11. ^ "ATO Forces Kill 20 Separatists, Destroy 8 Pieces of Equipment Near Horlivka, Donetsk Region". Ukrainian News. 27 July 2014. Archived from the original on 11 August 2014. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  12. ^ "17 Killed, 43 Wounded Due To Shelling in Horlivka, Donetsk Region on July 28". Archived from the original on 9 September 2014. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  13. ^ "Savur-Mohyla liberated, Horlivka blocked by ATO forces".
  14. ^ "Fierce fighting in eastern Ukraine". The Washington Post. 29 July 2014.
  15. ^ "The Flight of 'The Demon': A Brutal Russian Officer Reportedly Flees His Place in the Ukraine War". Atlantic Council. 28 July 2014. Archived from the original on 9 September 2014. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  16. ^ "Ukrainian army intensifies offensive on Donetsk". ITAR-TASS. 31 July 2014. Archived from the original on 12 August 2014.
  17. ^ "Civilians die in latest Ukraine offensive". Al Jazeera. 3 August 2014.
  18. ^ "One killed, four injured in Horlivka shelling - city council". Interfax-Ukraine. 5 August 2014.
  19. ^ "In Ucraina si torna a sparare: 5 civili morti a Gorlivka". 7 August 2014.
  20. ^ "Self-Defense Forces Blast Bridge in Horlivka, Ukraine to Stop Kiev Army". RIA Novosti. 6 August 2014.
  21. ^ "Terrorists Mounting Counter Attacks in Several Directions". Ukrainian News. 14 August 2014. Archived from the original on 9 September 2014. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  22. ^ "Clashes in Ukraine as aid agreement reached". Al Jazeera. 16 August 2014.
  23. ^ "Horlivka fully encircled - Information Resistance". Interfax-Ukraine. 18 August 2014.
  24. ^ "Breakthrough hopes dented as Ukraine accuses Russia of new incursion". Reuters. 27 August 2014.
  25. ^ "Kiev Forces Continue Shelling Despite Ceasefire: Donetsk Militia". RIA Novosti. 6 September 2014.
  26. ^ "В Горловке открыли мемориал погибшим жителям — Викиновости". (in Russian). Retrieved 9 June 2020.

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