News / Europe

    US Voices Alarm as Rebels Ignore Cease-Fire in E. Ukraine

    • Locals walk past a destroyed Ukrainian army armored personnel carrier in the town of Vuhlehirsk, about 10 km west of Debaltseve, Feb. 16, 2015.
    • Members of the Ukrainian armed forces ride on a military vehicle near Debaltseve, eastern Ukraine, Feb. 16, 2015.
    • The Ukrainian government and Russia-backed rebels accused each other of violating a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine one day before the parties are due to start withdrawing heavy weaponry under a recently brokered deal. In this photo, a Ukrainian truck with a "Smerch" missile launcher drives through the streets of Artemivsk, Ukraine, Feb. 16, 2015.
    • Ukrainian armed forces ride on a multiple rocket launcher system near Debaltseve, eastern Ukraine, Feb. 16, 2015.
    • A dog roams near a destroyed house after shelling in Popasna, eastern Ukraine, Feb. 15, 2015.
    E. Ukraine Truce on Verge of Collapse
    VOA News

    The United States says it is "gravely concerned" over the deteriorating situation in and around the eastern Ukrainian town of Debaltseve, where pro-Russian rebels are refusing to honor an internationally brokered cease-fire.

    The U.S. State Department, in a statement Monday, said 129 rebel cease-fire violations have been recorded since late Sunday, along with five deaths.  

    Spokeswoman Jen Psaki described the violations reported by the Kyiv government as "aggressive actions" that threaten the cease-fire agreement announced last week by Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France, which calls for government and separatist forces to withdraw heavy weapons.

    Rebel commander Eduard Basurin said Sunday that separatist fighters would not observe the truce in Debaltseve, and there were no signs early Tuesday that he or other rebel leaders would reverse that decision. Basurin said no such withdrawal would occur until 48 hours after shelling stopped.

    Embattled Debaltseve

    Earlier Monday, separatists offered Ukrainian forces safe-passage out of Debaltseve if they laid down their arms. But Ukraine promptly rejected the idea and said the town lies within its territory under the truce negotiated at the 4-nation summit in Minsk, Belarus. The devastated town has seen major fighting constantly since earlier truce efforts failed last month.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and  Poroshenko voiced concern Monday about the ongoing fighting in Debaltseve. They called for European security monitors to be given access to the city, which the rebels have blocked.

    "The situation is fragile," Merkel said, "but that was certainly to be expected, given Debaltseve."

    Ukraine military spokesman Andriy Lysenko told reporters in Kyiv that its forces had been hit 112 times since the official start of the cease-fire after midnight Saturday.

    "At the moment, we are not ready to withdraw heavy weapons," Lysenko said.
     
    Even as the rebels offered to let as many as 7,000 of Kyiv's forces leave Debaltseve, its fighters vowed to take control of the city and its railway linking the rebel strongholds of Luhansk and Donetsk.

    Map of Ukraine showing Donetsk, Luhansk, Debaltseve, Vuhlehirsk, Dokuchaievsk, and HorlivkaMap of Ukraine showing Donetsk, Luhansk, Debaltseve, Vuhlehirsk, Dokuchaievsk, and Horlivka
    x
    Map of Ukraine showing Donetsk, Luhansk, Debaltseve, Vuhlehirsk, Dokuchaievsk, and Horlivka
    Map of Ukraine showing Donetsk, Luhansk, Debaltseve, Vuhlehirsk, Dokuchaievsk, and Horlivka

    "You can hear there is no ceasefire,'' said a rebel fighter
    with a black ski mask who gave his name as Scorpion, his nom de guerre, and blamed the fighting on Kyiv's forces. "Debaltseve is our land. And we will take Debaltseve.''

    The separatists offered Kyiv's troops safe-passage out of Debaltseve, but only if they laid down their arms. A spokesman for Ukraine's military, Vladislav Seleznyov, told Reuters he rejected the proposal.

    Kyiv insists that the latest truce deal put Debaltseve under government control.

    The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said on Sunday its monitors in eastern Ukraine were turned back from Debaltseve.

    Other flashpoints in the latest fighting Monday included the regional centers of Donetsk and Luhansk as well as the towns of Dokuchaievk, Vuhlehirsk and Horlivka.

    Next stage of cease-fire

    Withdrawal of heavy weapons from the frontlines in Ukraine is set to begin at midnight Monday under the terms of the cease-fire, negotiated late last week in Minsk, Belarus, by the the leaders of Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia.

    But a Ukrainian military spokesman said such a move would be unlikely.

    "One hundred and twelve attacks are not an indicator of a cease-fire. At the moment we are not ready to withdraw heavy weapons,'' Andriy Lysenko told a news briefing in Kyiv.

    In another development, the European Union included two Russian deputy defense ministers on its latest Ukraine sanctions list Monday, hitting them with travel bans and asset freezes for their role in the conflict.

    They are among 19 new people and nine entities the EU has sanctioned due to the Ukraine crisis.

    Russia said that it would respond "appropriately" to the latest EU measures.

    Ukraine and a host of Western governments accuse Moscow of stoking the rebellion in Ukraine's Russian-speaking east with arms and fighters. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied providing direct support, and claims that Russian troops seen fighting alongside rebels are volunteers.

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    Comments page of 5
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    by: Mark from: Virginia
    February 18, 2015 9:59 PM
    As I have seen from news headlines for the past few years, whenever there is a crisis somewhere in the world, it is instantly assumed that the U.S. is involved in some way, and if it isn't, the U.S. should be involved in some way.

    Then, when the U.S. does respond in some way, it is instantly assumed that we are doing it because we are a war-mongering, self-appointed and greedy country bent on forcing Democracy down the throats of others.

    We are accusing Russia of supplying weapons to the Separatists, and armchair strategists are demanding that we supply the Ukrainian forces with weapons... that will only push Russia to supply the Separatists with weapons in earnest, dropping all pretense of not doing it. An arms race all over again, only on a smaller scale than the nuclear arms race where East and West faced each other bristling with nuclear tipped missiles. History repeats, and as we have not learned from our shared troubled past, we are going to relive that history in all its painful, agonizing detail.

    by: Christopher v LOEPKE from: Gulfport ms.
    February 18, 2015 11:34 AM
    While we are not directly involved we should arm the Ukrainians with top of the line weapons and then see how it goes ! Hey if urkrsinehad mules like they used to this would not be happening ! Putin is a regional bully and he will not stop until we stop him . Finally it won't happen with our clown show in dc and Putin is betting on that !

    by: world has changed
    February 17, 2015 2:57 AM
    China has surpassed American Economy. China also surpassed US military by joining hands with Russia. China needs Russian military to counter US military. Russia needs Chinese economy to counter US economy.This way, Chinese and Russian coalition has already become the only super power in the world. It's time for EU to part with USA to partner with Russia and China which are leading the new world order. Because, US has no power to fight chinese and Russian Coalition.
    In Response

    by: Gene from: Texas, Siblingly love
    February 19, 2015 6:52 AM
    Both China and Russia are. I mean US failed beating the Taliban, Iraq rebels, Libyan militia, Somali Pirates, ISIL, despite having modern weapons.
    In Response

    by: Gene from: Texas USA
    February 18, 2015 4:44 PM
    It is not how many troops you have in China and Russia,
    it is who has the BEST fighting troops.

    In Response

    by: Veto
    February 17, 2015 5:28 AM
    We have people who still reliving WWII here.

    by: naloda joseph from: mbale
    February 17, 2015 1:36 AM
    german and france dont know what they are doing and they dont know the kind of man they are handling,putin is not a man to be pushed by words or sanctions.And in a situation like this one where by Ukraine is losing her own people and land by gun,they must use the same steps to recover their lost cities.There is no way you can deceive me that the devil can be sent away by agreeing with him,no no no, you must react loud and toughly if you are to secure Ukraine.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    February 19, 2015 8:13 AM
    How can I take your words seriously when you using childish banter. Oh my, does Ukraine government have any allegations of corruption, war crimes and misconduct alleged by UN? If so, do you think minorities will ever trust Ukraine's government? I don't. Try not to do an Israeli scam here.

    by: Jakob from: USA
    February 17, 2015 12:53 AM
    US Congress and US President !

    Help Ukraine ! Don't wait until Russia kills all Ukrainians !
    Help Ukraine !

    by: Azad from: Afghanistan
    February 17, 2015 12:11 AM
    Long live Russia!!
    In Response

    by: Ivon You from: Poop Croatia
    February 17, 2015 7:01 PM
    Thanks for figuring that out by yourself, without research, facts or anything that make your argument substantial.
    In Response

    by: Ivan from: Croatia
    February 17, 2015 9:21 AM
    It will live long. And poor. And miserable. Just as miserable as you will live with it. Long and painful life, just as deserved...
    In Response

    by: Ben from: Greece
    February 17, 2015 5:27 AM
    Right on Brother!

    by: Anonymous from: Finland
    February 16, 2015 11:45 PM
    Russia is going to eliminate nation that has pro-western views.

    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    February 16, 2015 10:39 PM
    Yeah, like we all expect the rebels to abide by anything other than what these Russian armed people have been doing! They wouldn't have the ability to kill Ukrainian women and children without the weapons freely given to them from Russia!!!
    In Response

    by: Tone
    February 17, 2015 6:08 AM
    lol, so why aren't Russian winning? They're alot stronger than Ukraine's 3rd world army. Thanks for telling to what to expect? More dishonesty for US crowd, speaks volume about integrity of politics that you would stoop to lying.

    by: JohnnyYuma from: los Angeles
    February 16, 2015 10:32 PM
    Face it, the U.S. is involved in this skirmish up to their eyeballs. The CIA and NSA meddle in the internal affairs of dozens of countries worldwide.

    No wonder the world is in such a mess!
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    February 19, 2015 6:56 AM
    More western hyperbole, and Afghanistan would be stable, Libya wouldn't be in a state of collapse, Yemen isn't breaking, Iraq was fine. I love how people in US make up biased stuff, they think people are dumb enough to believe them. lol.
    In Response

    by: Gene from: Texas USA
    February 18, 2015 4:48 PM
    JohnnyYuma: There is nothing to face. If the US was involved
    in Ukraine (which it is not), the Russians would be retreating
    to Moscow.

    by: NICK DECARLO from: PENNSYLVANIA, USA
    February 16, 2015 10:28 PM
    Not at all surprised fighting in Ukraine hasn't ceased.My everyday dealing with the people of this region shows them to be arrogant,nasty,ill-mannered individuals.Their superiority attitude overwhelms normal individuals. I think we (the USA) should just let them annihilate each other & be done with their stupidity. The world would be better off without these boorish, ignorant people.
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