Andrii Bielkin was born on July 2, 1977, in Alushta, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. He was of Russian origin. Andrii dreamed of becoming a pilot since childhood. Thus, having finished school, he entered Kharkiv National Air Force University.
After graduation, he obtained a specialization in flight operations and combat employment of aircraft. Starting from 2007, Andrii participated in the peace-support missions under the aegis of the United Nations in Liberia. He was a commander of a helicopter unit in a squadron of the 16th Independent Brigade of Military Air Forces of the 8th Army Corps of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Andrii’s military decorations are “15 Years of the Armed Forces of Ukraine” Medal, “Third Class Good Conduct” Medal, “UNMIL” UNO Medal. Andrii was a very equable and sensitive person and a true professional.
He died during the Anti-Terrorism Operation on June 24, 2014, near the mountain Karachun not far from the town of Sloviansk in Donetsk Region. The terrorists shot down a Ukrainian military helicopter Mi-8 under the command of Andrii Bielkin on its way back from the checkpoint with the professionals installing the equipment for monitoring the space and tracing the cases of ceasefire violation on board with a man-portable air defense system.
The Commander of a helicopter unit Сolonel Andrii Bielkin was buried with the full honors on July 5, in the town of Radyvyliv, Rivne Region. His wife and three children (a son and two daughters) live in this town nowadays.
According to the Presidential Executive Order № 599/2014 on July 19, 2014, Andrii was posthumously awarded the Order of Bohdan Khmelnitskyi III class for “valor and bravery, demonstrated during the protection of sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine.”
Lieutenant-colonel, class I aviation pilot Andrii Bielkin was killed in action near Sloviansk on June 24
I acquainted with Andrii back in 2012 in Brody before international UN peace-support mission to Equatorial Africa, namely to Liberia. We were a part of 56 separate helicopter detachment of 16th force rotation of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. At that time, he was a squadron leader and a class 2 pilot (1000 hours of flights, very often he was flying in bad meteorological conditions). To say the truth, it is really hard to write about a person whom you knew and who is no longer alive.
President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko had announced a ceasefire. Only Ukraine was maintaining it. Almost every single day there was a shelling of ATO’s checkpoints. Only in a week, from June 20 to June 27 dozens of civil and military men were killed, the biggest amount was killed on June 24.
“63rd has done the task!! I’m launching the helicopter!”
Almost half a year ago Karachun Mountain was the most known tourist place for the residents of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. Locals were making tours for tourists there as well as to the well-known salt-water lakes in Slavkurort. However, from the first days of confrontation it became clear that Karachun is an important strategic site. That is a high point (167 meters) from which opens up an observation on Sloviansk and Kramatorsk and on access and egress in both cities. It also leads to a control over traffic on one of the main roads in Donetsk Region – H20: Sloviansk-Donetsk-Mariupol. Also, there is a TV tower which means that all nearby territory is exposed to fire. From the very beginning of ATO Ukrainian army took control of it, but they were blocked at the top. At the same time terrorists that took control of the root of the mountain was taking the advantage of the bushes around and could easily make a maneuver. Helicopter was the only chance to get there reinforcements and provisions. Understanding that, terrorists were shooting our helicopters extremely hard.
One day Andrii said to his wife Nadiia: “Don’t worry. Everything will be fine. I’ll fly there for one last time”.
They were scrambled. The officer commanding assigned a usual task – to deliver to a claim area devices and reinforcement and quickly come back. Then: system checkout, engine ignition, report, launch. Helicopter got down very quickly. Soldiers started immediately unload specific store. Then: system checkout, engine ignition, report, launch. “63rd has done the task!! I’m launching the helicopter!” After aircraft had launched terrorists shoot it down. Explosion, smoke, fire…
From the letter of unit commanding officer…
“During the executing of operation near Karachun Mountain on July 24,2014 around 5 p.m. helicopter Мі-8МТ of 16th aviation brigade of Ukraine (military unit 2595 of Brody) that had flown to military fortified checkpoint near Karachun was shoot down after it had launched. It explored in the air and flaming fell down to the ground. Crew team of 3 person and 6 passengers who were on the board were killed.
Members of the crew team were:
Helicopter plane commander – lieutenant-colonel Andrii Bielkin;
Pilot-navigator – commander Dmytro Shyngur;
Crewchief – major Ruslan Mazunov.
Also soldier Oleksii Volokha and senior soldier Oleksandr Kondakov and 4 officers of Security Service of Ukraine were killed.”
“To award with the Order of Bohdan Khmelnitskyi III class:
Andrii Bielkin (posthumously) – lieutenant-colonel;
Ruslan Mazunov (posthumously) – major;
Dmytro Shyngur (posthumously) – commander…”
Andrii’s son is 14 years old, his older daughter is 12 and the youngest one is 3. Her mother couldn’t tell the little kid that her beloved father is no longer alive. She just told the girl that he had turned into an angel and was looking on them from the sky. Andrii would have turned 37 years old this year. Andri’s mother came from Crimea to send her son to glory. She was weeping over him and took a handful of soil from his grave as if she wanted to take a piece of his soul to Alushta.