More than 90% of the Ukrainian Forces Left the Debaltseve Area
„More than 90% of the forces have been extracted from the city and neighbourhood [of Debaltseve] in an organized manner. Planned relocation of the Ukrainian soldiers shows that they were not surrounded, and the units are being repositioned, in order to take better positions, that may be more usable for defending the country” - As Anatoliy Stelmakh. Spokesperson of the Ukrainian Military, stated on Thursday. Due to the fact that the Ukrainian units remain in the area, protecting the evacuation operations, the fights are still going on.
On 18th February, during the meeting of the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council, President Poroshenko stated that 2475 soldiers have been withdrawn from the Debaltseve area. According to the information provided by Poroshenko, 2132 persons belong to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, 158 to the National Guard, and the rest is part of the forces commanded by the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Poroshenko stated the following words in the evening, when he was visiting the soldiers stationed in Artiomovsk: „I am proud and happy that I am a commander of such Armed Forces. You have survived the attack, to the very end, not giving up on your positions in Debaltseve. We are defending our country, I would like to thank each one of you for your bravery (...) The whole world is witnessing the Russians, not acting in line with their commitments”. Poroshenko also added that each of the elements that has left Debaltseve is going to be rotated at the front-line. Any mechanics or drivers who were able to evacuate some combat equipment from the battlefield is to receive bonus cash, and their salaries areto be increased.
Meanwhile, in the Debaltseve area, “military komandaturas” are being created, as it has been stated by Dmytro Tymchuk from the “Information Resistance” group, via his facebook account: “Russian-terrorist forces have taken over control of the town of (…) and railway station of Debaltseve. At the moment some military komandaturas are being created there. (…) The avant-garde units of the enemy try to advance towards the town of Luganskye”. Tymchuk assesses that the enemy forces are getting ready to attack the towns of Loginove and Luganskie.
Tymchuk stated that the Gorlovka garrison units have been reinforced (by including the locals into the composition of the units, mostly 16-17 year old persons and older ones, all of whom have poor armament), and then they started to march towards the Artiomovsk-Debaltseve road. In total, 240 persons are there, divided into 4 groups. The units are armed with maximally 10 tanks and 6 APC’s. Ukrainian forces are carrying out shelling of the area.
At the same time, shelling of the southern section has been intensified. Throughout the last day, the Ukrainian positions in Shirokine, near Mariupol, have been under attack of the “Separatists” tanks, and artillery and tanks. Similar incidents have taken place in the Lugansk Oblast, in the town of Krymskie. Besides that – intensity of the fights along the front-line has been significantly reduced.