The OSCE officials who are supposed to be monitoring the ceasefire in Ukraine have been blocked from entering Debaltseve
The fighting continues in Ukraine around the area of Debaltseve as it’s looking more and more like the ceasefire was nothing but an empty promise. Pro-Russia separatists said they now occupy much of the area, which is a key hub for transportation.
Ukrainian ceasefire nearly shredded
Additionally, TV footage from Russian channel Life News appears to show that the rebels have seized control of the only road into the area, effectively cutting Ukrainian troops’ only supply line, reports Andrew Kramer of The New York Times.
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According to Kramer, the seizure of the road may be enough to put an end to the already-fragile ceasefire. Ukrainian troops have been under constant bombardment for days, and international officials who are supposed to be watching over the ceasefire have been blocked from getting into Debaltseve.
The BBC reports that the ceasefire was supposed to go into effect on Sunday, and both sides had two extra days to begin pulling out their troops and heavy artillery from the region.
Ukraine: Rebels seizing control of Debaltseve
Multiple media outlets are reporting that dozens of Ukrainian troops have been captured or killed. There are varying reports of just how much control the rebels have over Debaltseve. The rebels claim to have seized the railway station and the police station.
However, an official with the Ukrainian military stated that they still control the railway station although it is under heavy bombardment by the reels. The rebels have reportedly offered Ukrainian troops safe passage if they wish to leave.
Although Debaltseve has seen much fighting in the last few weeks, news correspondents on the ground say these latest battles are the first fierce fights there. According to the BBC, both sides have mostly observed the ceasefire, but pro-Russia separatists claim it doesn’t apply in Debaltseve because they have almost surrounded the town.
Will the rebels withdraw
The British news network reports that a leader for the rebels said they intend to talk about potentially withdrawing some of their weapons today with officials from Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE. A leader for the separatists in the Luhansk area said he already started withdrawing his weapons and tanks according to the terms of the ceasefire.
However, today officials with the Ukrainian military said five soldiers have been killed and 14 others have been wounded in the last 24 hours, making the ceasefire seem less and less likely to go into effect. Officials reportedly told AFP that most of those deaths happened not far from Debaltseve.