Bild «reporter Paul Ronzheimer is currently reporting from Soledar, about 40 kilometers from Debalzewe.

Units loyal to the government tried to stop the enemy.

Up to 8,000 Ukrainian soldiers are said to be encircled near Debaltseve.

Is a massacre looming?

«Bild» reporter Paul Ronzheimer is currently reporting from Soledar

, about 40 kilometers from Debaltseve. A fighter is said to have said to him, according to «Bild»: «There is a threat of a second Illovaisk, a massacre against the Ukrainian army. The separatists are clearly superior with heavy Russian weapons.»

From the side of the OSCE observers, who are also in Soledar and advise there, there has not yet been an official statement on the situation, as Ronzheimer reports via Twitter.

OSCE observers have been discussing for 6 hours in Soledar (around 40 km from Debaltseve). No statement so far. Hectic crisis diplomacy.

#Ukraine

— Paul Ronzheimer (@ronzheimer)

17th February 2015

According to Russian media reports, the separatist leader Alexander Sakharchenko is said to have been wounded in the battle for Debaltseve.

Russian media reported that separatist leader Sakharchenko was allegedly injured in the battle for Debaltseve

@IMAGE

— Paul Ronzheimer (@ronzheimer)

17th February 2015

Why is the fight for the small town of Debaltseve? Debaltseve is on the trunk road between the strongholds of the separatists, Donetsk and Luhansk. Railway lines coming from Russia to Donetsk also run through the city. The insurgents need Debaltseve for easier transport links to Russia. In addition, the strategically favorable location of the place would open up new routes to the cities of Artyomovsk and Slavyansk, which are controlled by government troops.

Skirmishes despite the peace agreement

The skirmishes are considered a massive violation of a just a few days ago

Peace agreement concluded in Minsk

. Accordingly, the conflicting parties should actually withdraw their heavy weapons from the Donbass from Tuesday. «There is no real ceasefire on the part of the insurgents, so the conditions (for a withdrawal) are not in place,» said military spokesman Andrei Lysenko in Kiev. The army is still ready to form a buffer zone. «Our positions are repeatedly taken under fire,» he complained.

© REUTERS / Gleb Garanich Near Debaltseve a car in which journalists are sitting comes under fire.

«We had to return fire»

In Donetsk, separatist spokesman Eduard Bassurin accused the government units of failing to comply with the ceasefire, especially with Debaltseve. «We had to return fire,» said Bassurin. The Luhansk separatist leader Igor Plotnitski said, according to the Tass agency, however, that his troops had started with the withdrawal of heavy weapons. «I was at the front that night, our artillery and tanks were moving away,» he said. There were no independent reports.college essay helpers

In the struggle for a political solution to the conflict, German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed on the phone with the Presidents of Russia and Ukraine, Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko, «concrete steps» to enable the OSCE to monitor the situation in Debaltseve. This was announced by government spokesman Steffen Seibert. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is to monitor compliance with the ceasefire. Details were initially not available upon request.

Massive obstruction of the OSCE

Military spokesman Andrei Lysenko complained on Tuesday that the OSCE was severely obstructed in the crisis area. Organization observers were again not allowed into the combat zone. OSCE Deputy Head of Mission Alexander Hug said the observers had not reached Debaltseve because no security guarantees had been given. «All sides are apparently trying to create new facts in the fighting, but that goes against the spirit of the Minsk Agreement,» said the Swiss.

Economy is going downhill

The Ukrainian economy is going downhill because of the conflict. The gross domestic product (GDP) collapsed from October to December 2014 by 15.2 percent compared to the same period last year, as the statistics office in Kiev announced on Tuesday. Compared to the previous quarter, it was down 3.8 percent. The government fears that the downward spiral will continue this year. She expects a minus of 4.3 percent.

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Eloy Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 7:31 pm

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As you can see, the meeting of the political giants and the agreement of the ceasefire has been fruitful in all respects …

Page 1 of 1 »

A few hours before the agreed ceasefire began, the fighting in eastern Ukraine intensified again. The transport hub Debaltseve (Debaltsevo) is under constant fire from the pro-Russian rebels, said the Kiev-loyal police in the besieged city on Saturday.

«The rebels are destroying Debaltseve,» wrote police chief Vyacheslav Abroskin on the online network Facebook. Residential areas and administrative buildings are under constant fire from enemy artillery. The police station was also hit by a missile.

In the past 24 hours there have been around 120 attacks by the pro-Russian rebels, said military spokesman Anatoly Stelmach on Saturday in Kiev. «There was no break in the fighting, rather the rebels continue to attack Debaltseve,» he said on television.

The Ukrainian army has been fighting with the separatists for days around the town between the rebel strongholds of Kiev and Luhansk (Lugansk). If the rebels had this important transport hub under control, they would have a direct link between their strongholds Donetsk and Luhansk.

Poroshenko threatens the introduction of martial law

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has again threatened the introduction of martial law across the country if the planned ceasefire in the Donbass conflict area fails. «If there is no peace, we have to make the very difficult but necessary decision,» said Poroshenko on Saturday in Kiev, according to the Interfax agency. Parliament would first have to approve this step. Observers warn of an escalation of violence and possible national bankruptcy, if it did.

According to the agreement, the general ceasefire is to come into force on Sunday 00.00 a.m. (Saturday 23.00 p.m. CET). The pro-Russian separatist leader Alexander Sakharchenko said in Donetsk that he had ordered the ceasefire — with the exception of Debaltseve. Thousands of Ukrainian soldiers are said to have been surrounded by the insurgents there, which the leadership in Kiev rejects. Sakharchenko said he had given orders not to let anyone escape from Debaltseve.

The rebels in Donetsk said on Saturday that at least four civilians were killed in the shelling of the city. In the two days before, 28 soldiers and civilians had been killed in eastern Ukraine, according to the army and the separatists. The army reported 14 deaths in the conflict area within 24 hours on Saturday.

Withdrawal of heavy weapons and establishment of a buffer zone

After a marathon of negotiations on Thursday, the Kiev government and the pro-Russian rebels agreed on a «package of measures» to implement the Minsk agreements from early September. The ceasefire officially comes into effect on Sunday 00.00 a.m. (Saturday 23.00 p.m. CET). In addition, the withdrawal of heavy weapons and the establishment of a buffer zone were agreed. Observers suspect that both sides want to gain ground with the skirmishes before the ceasefire.

The separatists in Donbass warned the military leadership in Kiev against a breach of the planned ceasefire in the war zone. If the agreements are not kept, the fighting will continue, threatened separatist leader Eduard Bassurin.

The insurgents in Donetsk ratified the Minsk Agreement, as their representative Denis Pushilin announced. He called on the pro-Western leadership in Kiev for a new contact group meeting. Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are also involved in the negotiating group.

Don’t trust Putin

The Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseni Yatsenjuk accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of not taking the signature for the most recent peace agreements in Minsk seriously. There could be no trust in the Russian leadership, said Yazenjuk of the German «Bild» newspaper (Saturday edition). «Putin’s greatest dream is to restore hegemonic control over Ukraine, which could bring about a new version of the USSR.» He has «no doubt» that Moscow will do everything to make the peace process vulnerable and thereby weaken Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Russia has introduced a draft resolution to the UN Security Council, with which the agreements of the Minsk peace talks on Thursday are to be recorded. As the state agency Tass reported, the most powerful UN body could vote on Sunday. Russia had blocked previous UN resolutions.

Warn G-7

The seven leading industrialized countries (G-7), from which Russia was excluded due to the Ukraine crisis, warned the conflicting parties on Friday evening to be prudent in view of the fighting at Debaltseve and threatened to take action. The G-7 are ready to «take appropriate measures against those (…) who do not comply with the agreed comprehensive ceasefire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons,» it said.

The US accused Russia of planning arms deliveries to the separatists. Russia has prepared supplies at the border, Washington said. The leadership in Moscow rejects such allegations.

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»

According to a recent survey, half of Poles fear that the country could be affected by a military conflict in the future. The reasons given in the questionnaire published on Monday by the daily «Dziennik Gazeta Prawna» were the situation in eastern Ukraine and Russia’s actions.

The survey was conducted with a view to recent maneuvers by the Russian army in Kaliningrad district and the announcement of Iskander missiles being deployed in the Russian exclave on the Baltic Sea. Experts were not surprised by the results of the survey. «They depend on what happens in Ukraine. If the Ukrainian scenario did not exist, not only military maneuvers, but also the announcement of the missile deployment would not make such an impression,» General Boguslaw Pacek, an adviser to the Polish Defense Minister, told the newspaper.

Russia’s «intimidation policy»

In his opinion, Russia is deliberately pursuing a «policy of intimidation». This should affect societies and politicians in Western countries. «We see the effects of the intimidation policy in the survey,» said Pacek.

Despite the increased fear of war, only a quarter of Poles are willing to pay additional taxes to strengthen the armed forces, according to the survey. The willingness to pay a higher tax burden on the army is only slightly higher in large cities, where it is 40 percent.

The government has already increased the proportion of defense spending from 1.95 to up to two percent of gross domestic product. The change will take effect in 2016. A strengthening of the artillery, air defense, armored forces and navy is planned.

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In eastern Ukraine the

new ceasefire between the military and pro-Russian separatists

largely held until Sunday afternoon. From midnight the guns fell silent in Donetsk, the largest separatist stronghold. However, the insurgents in nearby Debaltseve did not want to bow to the Minsk agreement.

«We can open fire here,» the separatist commander Eduard Bassurin told Reuters on Sunday. «It is our territory. The area is within: It is ours.» In the morning shots could be heard from Debaltseve, where government soldiers are trapped. A spokesman for the Russian presidential office said the ceasefire must be observed «unconditionally». The traffic junction between the Donetsk and Luhansk (Lugansk) was fiercely fought on Saturday.

The government in Kiev announced on Sunday morning that the ceasefire would be «largely observed». The Ukrainian soldiers were shot at around ten times after the ceasefire went into effect. There were isolated incidents, no soldier had been killed in the past 24 hours. Nine soldiers were killed on Saturday. Two civilians were killed shortly after midnight, the government said.

In a televised speech at midnight, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko instructed his army to implement the Minsk agreement. «I very much hope that the last chance to start the long and difficult peace process towards a political solution will not be wasted,» he said. The situation in Debaltseve is still worrying.

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