Debaltseve Lost – Ukrainian Forces Are Being Evacuated
Main Debaltseve-Artiomovsk road and Debaltseve have been lost by the Ukrainian Forces. However, the side roads are still staying under control of the National Guard and the “Donbas” Battalion. “Planned” and “organized” evacuation is ebbing carried out, as Semen Semchenko stated. The Separatists are trying to interrupt the operation at all costs.
In order to take over the city, the forces supported by Moscow have used all of their reserves. The Ukrainian media claim that the terrorist forces came to Debaltseve from other sections of the front-line. According to the “Information Resistance” group, which is led by Deputy of the Verkhovna Rada, Dmitry Tymchuk, currently 25 tanks, 35 APC’s and 3 artillery squadrons are currently involved in the fights near Debaltseve. Partially thanks to these units, it was possible enter the city, gain control over the Debaltsevo-Artiomovsk road and over the highest hills in the neighbourhood.
Evacuation of the Ukrainian forces is being carried out in small groups, supported by artillery, which makes it tougher for the terrorists to engage the Ukrainians who are being withdrawn from the area. The terrorists have let the OSCE supervisors to enter their territory, and they continue shelling the Ukrainian positions, using the Grad launchers, howitzers, mortars and tanks. According to the Novyny 24 channel correspondent, Volodimir Runec, the wounded are transported to the Artiomovsk hospital. So far 20 seriously wounded and 20 casualties have been transported there. The evacuation is an ongoing process though, so the casualties may get far worse.
According to the Ukrainian media, 100-150 people, out of nearly 2 thousand people from the 128th Brigade have been evacuated, after they successfully got through the fire laid by the terrorists. Some soldiers of the “Krivbas” Battalion have also been extracted, however, the exact number is unknown. Some of the soldiers remain in the town of Novogorlovka, where many of the wounded and the dead are present – however, no exact information is available. Situation over there is tragic - “there is no-one to help the wounded, the soldiers are awaiting the orders. A corridor is needed to transport the dead and the wounded” - as the soldiers who stay at the front-line report.
At the same time, so called “General Prosecutor Office of the People’s Republic of Donetsk” has started a trial against the Ukrainian authorities, regarding the “outbreak of war in Donbas”. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk and Secretary of the National Security and Defence Counccil Olexandr Turchinov, are all accused of “planning, preparing, starting and conducting warfare” in the Donbas area.
Vladimir Putin, referring himself to the Ukrainian crisis stated that Ukraine has agreed to carry out an in-depth constitutional reform, aim of which would be to give the rights of autonomy to some regions, withdraw the heavy forces from the front-line, which would ultimately lead to peace. The intensity of fights in Debaltseve is constantly going down, and the events “have been predicted and clarified”. Putin assesses that the Ukrainian forces got “surrounded” a week before the Minsk memorandum has been concluded, so the current withdrawal operation is going to be blocked. The Ukrainian media have interpreted this statement as a call, aim of which would be to ask the Ukrainian soldiers to surrender.
During the yesterday’s press conference, Putin, denying his participation and support for the separatists, claimed that the Ukrainian Army will be defeated by an army of “yesterday’s miners and tractor drivers”. “Of course defeat is always bad, it is always unhappy for the losers, particularly when they are losing the war with the yesterday’s miners or tractor drivers. But life goes on, nobody has to focus on that (…) The problem related to the surrounded groups needs to be solved. It is our common goal to save the lives of the people who have found themselves in that boiler” - as Putin stated. In his statement he described the Ukrainian forces, which are defending the city of Debaltseve, as an “abscess”, which is interrupting the good relationship between Kiev and the regions. Headline of the UNIAN information agency article, referring to the Putin’s statement, reads: “Defenders of Debaltseve – Abscess which needs to be gone?”.
Petro Poroshenko also made a statement on Tuesday, claiming that “the world needs to stop the aggressor. I would like the permanent members of the UN Security Council to stop further breach of the basic rules and norms of the organization, and escalation of the warfare in the heart of Eurrope”. Poroshenko added that separatists-driven operations are a “cynical attack on the integrity of the Minsk memorandums”.