Aidar Battalion

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24th Separate Assault Battalion
(March 2015 – present)
24th Territorial Defence Battalion "Aidar"
(2014 – March 2015)[1]
Ukrainian: 24-й окремий штурмовий батальйон «Айдар»
24-й БТрО ЗСУ «Айдар».png
Unit insignia
Founded2014 (2014)
Country Ukraine
AllegianceMinistry of Defense
Branch Ukrainian Ground Forces
RoleAssault unit
Part of10th Mountain Assault Brigade
Serhiy Melnychuk
Aidar Battalion in Luhansk region, 2 August 2014

24th Separate Assault Battalion "Aidar", also known as the Aidar Battalion is an assault battalion of the Ukrainian Ground Forces. The unit takes part in the war in Eastern Ukraine and has roughly 400 members, it was named after the Aidar River in the Luhansk region where it was initially deployed. Some of its members were known for links to the far-right;[3][4] as of October 2018 the battalion lost 130 soldiers killed in action.[5]


Created in May 2014, Aidar was the first Territorial Defense Battalion of Ukraine - a volunteer military detachment subordinate to the Ministry of Defence (Ukraine).[6]

In the 2014 Ukrainian parliamentary election, former Aidar commander, Serhiy Melnychuk,[7] became a member of the Verkhovna Rada representing the Radical Party of Oleh Lyashko; he ranked third on the party's election list;[8][9] the commander of Aidar's second company, Ihor Lapin, is an MP for People's Front after winning a constituency seat in Lutsk in the same election.[10][11]

On 8 August 2014 Ukraine's Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey stated that the battalion would be reorganised, would receive better equipment and would see more combat missions.[12] Melnychuk has described that order as "criminal", but has admitted that most of Aidar's soldiers had demobilized or come under official control by 2015.[13]

The battalion came to spotlight after several dozen of its members were killed in an ambush south of Shchastya after the announcement of the ceasefire on 6 September 2014.[14]

Late January and early February 2015 the battalion picketed several government buildings, which escalated into clashes.[1]

Aidar was formally disbanded on 2 March 2015 "to prevent illegal actions of some representatives of volunteer units" (according to the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces).[1][15][16][17] After a "careful selection of soldiers", it was then reorganized as the 24th Separate Assault Battalion of the Ukrainian Army.[1] Lieutenant Colonel Yevhen Ptashnik was appointed as commander of the battalion.[1]

Members and structure[edit]

The Aidar Battalion consisted of volunteers from Lviv, Chernihiv, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Crimea, Kiev, Ivano-Frankivsk and Donetsk regions, it included a member of the Luhansk Oblast's legislature, a former mayor of Oleksandrivsk, and self-defense activists from the Euromaidan protests in Kiev.[18] In June 2014, it had around 400 members.[19]

The battalion had several subdivisions:

  • Kholodnyi Yar
  • Company "West"
  • Afgan company
  • Volyn company
  • Autorota
  • Golden company

Allegations of human rights violations and war crimes[edit]

In July 2014, Russia began a criminal investigation of Aidar's commander, Serhiy Melnychuk, for "organizing the killing of civilians",[20] its volunteer pilot, Nadiya Savchenko, was captured by pro-Russian separatists near Luhansk, transported to Russia and charged with killing two Russian journalists.[21][22]

On 8 September 2014 Amnesty International claimed that the Battalion had committed war crimes, including abductions, unlawful detention, ill-treatment, theft, extortion, and possible executions.[14]

On 24 December 2014, Amnesty International reported that the unit was blocking humanitarian aid from Ukraine reaching the population of the separatist-controlled areas. Over half the population in these areas depend on food aid. According to Amnesty International, the Aidar, Donbass and Dnipro-1 battalions say they are blocking the aid because they "believe food and clothing are ending up in the wrong hands and may be sold instead of being given as humanitarian aid".[23] Denis Krivosheev, acting Director of Europe and Central Asia for Amnesty International, stated that "using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is a war crime".[24]

In April 2015, the Ukrainian government appointed Governor of Luhansk Hennadiy Moskal stated that Aidar battalion was "terrorizing the region" and asked Ukrainian Defense Ministry to rein in its members after a series of thefts, including ambulances and the takeover of a bread factory.[25]


  1. ^ a b c d e ‹See Tfd›(in Russian) Aydar reformed into a single army battalion, (2 March 2015)
  2. ^ "A Guide to Ukraine's Fighting Forces". Kyiv Post. 10 July 2014. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  3. ^ "The women fighting on the frontline in Ukraine". the Guardian.
  4. ^ Ukrainian Nationalist Volunteers Committing 'ISIS-Style' War Crimes
  5. ^ Книга пам'яті полеглих за Україну [Book of Remembrance of the fallen for Ukraine]. (in Ukrainian).
  6. ^ "Ukraine's volunteer battalions: The new model army". Ukrinform. 2014. Archived from the original on 25 October 2014.
  7. ^ "Aidar commander: Terrorists know everything". Ukrinform. 24 June 2014.
  8. ^ "Ukraine Votes On Oct. 26 To Elect New Parliament". Kyiv Post. 24 October 2014.
  9. ^ "Poroshenko Bloc to have greatest number of seats in parliament". Ukrainian Television and Radio. 8 November 2014. Archived from the original on 10 November 2014.
  10. ^ Повний список новообраних народних депутатів [Complete list of newly elected People's Deputies] (in Ukrainian). Televiziyna Sluzhba Novyn. 12 November 2014.
  11. ^ "Data on vote counting at precincts within single-mandate districts". Central Election Commission of Ukraine. 26 October 2014. Archived from the original on 29 October 2014.
  12. ^ Гелетей хоче зробити з "Айдара" регулярний спецпідрозділ [Heletey wants to turn Aidar into a regular special unit]. Ukrayinska Pravda (in Ukrainian). 8 August 2014.
  13. ^ Ukraine Struggles to Control Volunteer Fighter Squads, Reuters through Moscow Times (29 July 2015)
  15. ^ In Ukraine, Rogue Elements Defy Kiev and Separatists Alike, Stratfor (18 April 2015)
  16. ^ Nationalist Aidar Unit Reorganized As Assault Battalion of Ukraine's Army, Sputnik news (2 March 2015)
  17. ^ ‹See Tfd›(in Russian) Aydar reformed into a single army battalion, (2 March 2015)
  18. ^ Sukhov, Oleg (15 December 2014). "Diverse Aidar fighters united by goal of defending Ukraine". Kyiv Post.
  19. ^ Zinevych, Solomiya (24 June 2014). "Aydar Batallion ready to fight even as unit's future remains unclear". Kyiv Post.
  20. ^ "Moscow Court Sanctions Arrest of Ukraine Tycoon Governor Kolomoisky". The Moscow Times. 2 July 2014.
  21. ^ "Ukraine conflict: Russia charges pilot over deaths". BBC News. 9 July 2014.
  22. ^ "Russia Charges Ukrainian Pilot Savchenko Over Journalists' Deaths". NBC News. 9 July 2014.
  23. ^ Amnesty International, Eastern Ukraine: Humanitarian disaster looms as food aid blocked, 24 December 2014.
  24. ^ "Eastern Ukraine: Humanitarian disaster looms as food aid blocked".
  25. ^ "Governor of Luhansk region accuses Aidar of terrorizing the region". KyivPost.

External links[edit]

Media related to 24th territorial defence battalion «Aidar» at Wikimedia Commons