As we are paying tribute to those who served and sacrificed for the benefit of our security and peace, let us remember the 44,000 courageous Ukrainians who have served in the UN and multinational peacekeeping missions in order to keep our world safe. 55 of them sacrificed their lives. Here are the stories of four of them.
PFC Ruslan Androshchuk, died on April 6, 2004 from insurgent fire while his unit was defending a strategic bridge over the Tigris River in Al Kut, Iraq. He was 25 years old and served in a reconnaissance platoon of the 6th Mechanized Infantry Brigade.
SSGT Vira Petryk, died on January 9, 2005 in Al-Suwaira, Iraq, from a detonated explosive. She was 41 years old and served as a combat medic in the 95th Air Assault Brigade.
SSGT Oleh Denysiuk, died on July 3, 2007 in Kosovo after his armored vehicle fell of a cliff while patroling a mountain road at night time. He was 25 years old and served as a squad leader in Ukraine’s 95th Air Assault Brigade.
1LT Ihor Kynal, died on March 17, 2008 in Northern Mitrovica, Kosovo from multiple grenade fragment wounds. His unit was guarding the local courthouse and got suddenly attacked by anti-government groups with firearms and grenades. He was 26 years old.
Ukraine has taken part in 26 international peacekeeping and humantiarian missions from 1992 till present. Only a few months after Ukraine’s independence was proclaimed, the Verkhovna Rada ruled to send a battalion of Ukrainian troops to the UN peacekeeping force in Bosnia. Since then, Ukrainian units have taken part in UN protection, stabilization, and peacekeeping operations in Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Kosovo.
The largest peacekeeping mission deployed by Ukraine was from 2003 to 2008 in Iraq as a part of the Multi-National Force. It started with a battalion of radioactive and chemical reconnaissance and defense, then was expanded to a brigade of about 1700 military personnel. 18 of them died there in the line of duty.
Ukrainian land and airforce units have played important roles in peacekeeping, peace enforcement, resque and humanitarian aid operations in Angola, Sierra-Leone, Liberia, Cote-d’Ivoire, Congo, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Georgia. Until present time, Ukrainians continue to serve in two UN missions in Africa. Also, Ukrainian military specialists with combat experience gained in the war against Russia’s invasion continue to serve in the international peacekeeping force in Kosovo (KFOR) as land mine clearance experts.
Here are a few photos that visually tell this story.
Soldiers of the 240th Battalion, Ukraine’s first peacekeepng unit deployed in Bosnia in July 1992. Fifteen of them lost their lives there in the fall of 1992 and in 1993-1995.
Ukraine’s humanitarian mission during the war in Georgia, 1993.
Ukraine’s reconnaissance and chemical defense battalion in Iraq, 2003.
Ukrainian peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 2013.
Oleksandr Iliev, Ukrainian K-9 demining specialist in the international peacekeeping force in Kosovo (KFOR), 2015 (a Ukrainian TV screenshot).
Gen. Serhii Popko, Commander of Ukraine’s Land Forces (center), with U.S. Gen. Mark A. Milley (right) during a commemorative ceremony at the Arlington National Cemetery in February 2019. Gen. Popko was Commander of Ukraine’s 7th Brigade in the Multi-National Force in Iraq in 2004-2005.