Bereza says he thought about shooting Gen. Petro Lytvyn, the Ukrainian army officer commanding on the ground during the battle for Ilovaisk, an engagement that left at least a hundred Ukrainian militiamen and soldiers dead and possibly as many as 500 taken prisoner.
Bereza accuses Lytvyn of abandoning his post along with many of his men as Russian reinforcements poured across the border at Amvrosiivka and made for Ilovaisk, a rail hub that Ukrainian forces were attempting to wrest from the separatists. The covert invasion by thousands of Russian troops backed by tanks hardly was registered by an international media focused on the sweeping offensive of jihadist forces in Iraq and Syria. And Western capitals sought to play down the Russian invasion.
According to Bereza and other militia commanders, Lytvyn’s flight left militiamen encircled. In the end he told the general he should shoot himself for his cowardice. Bereza suffered a concussion in the subsequent fighting, the commander of the Donbass battalion was wounded and his counterpart in the Kharkiv militia was killed. A withdrawal agreement for the encircled Ukrainians, made with the Russians and separatists, was not honored and a column of retreating Ukrainians was wiped out as it came under mortar and heavy machine-gun fire.