Ukraine has appealed to the West to get tough on Russia after separatists

February 19, 2015 8:20 am
has appealed to the West to get tough on after
separatists it says are militarily backed by Moscow stormed a flashpoint
town to attack thousands of troops in violation of a three-day-old
As EU and officials expressed concern at the
violence in the town of Debaltseve, Russian President Vladimir Putin –
who denies having a hand in Ukraine’s insurgency – urged Kiev to permit
its beleaguered soldiers to surrender.


 Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo / AP
“I hope that the Ukrainian
authorities are not going to prevent the Ukrainian soldiers from laying
down their weapons,” Putin said in a press conference during a visit to
He also said the 10-month Ukrainian conflict, which
has so far killed more than 5600 people, could not be solved by
“military means”.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, in a
phone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said the
assault on Debaltseve, a strategic rail hub in the country’s east, was a
“cynical attack” on the truce brokered last week by Germany and France.

He called for the and international
community to take a “tough reaction against the treacherous actions of
the rebels and Russia”.
The comments came just ahead of a UN
Security Council meeting that adopted a Russian-sponsored resolution
calling for an immediate end to hostilities in Ukraine and compliance
with the ceasefire.

Intense shelling was heard in the Debaltseve area on Tuesday.
officials admitted that the pro-Russian rebels attacking Debaltseve had
taken parts of the town and surrounded some of the army units there,
but said fierce fighting was continuing.
“The hopes of the world
for peace are being destroyed,” the deputy head of Ukraine’s
presidential administration, Valeriy Chaly, said.
Rebels claimed
to control 80 per cent of Debaltseve and to have killed “many” of the
8000 soldiers they have said were holed up in the surrounded town, and
taken scores others prisoner.
An estimated 5000 civilians were also cowering in cellars, with little water or food.
was not known how many casualties the street-to-street combat by
fighters armed with automatic weapons and grenade launchers had caused.
and observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in
Europe (OSCE) have been stopped by rebels from entering the town.

A man casts a shadow on a wall where pictures of victims of the Maidan Square protests are placed in Kiev, Ukraine. Photo / AP
A man casts a shadow on a wall where pictures of victims of the Maidan Square protests are placed in Kiev, Ukraine. Photo / AP
The insurgents had waged an intense bombardment of
the town last Saturday, the day before the ceasefire came into effect,
and kept up rocket and mortar fire afterwards.
That violence, and
other breaches of the truce both sides blamed on the other, prevented
the warring forces from pulling back heavy weapons from the frontline in
Ukraine’s east as was meant to happen from Tuesday.
pro-Russian rebels have since argued that Debaltseve was well inside
their territory and so should not be included in the ceasefire
But Ukraine described it as a finger of territory it controlled and therefore subject to the truce.

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