Fighters of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic walk past a destroyed Ukrainian army armoured personnel carrier in the town of Vuhlehirsk, about 10 km (6 miles) to the west of Debaltsevo, Feb. 16. Source: Reuters
According to the OSCE, which is monitoring the situation, the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine has been largely observed with the exception of the area around the town of Debaltsevo. Some Russian experts warn that the problem of the "Debaltsevo pocket" – where thousands of Ukrainian troops are encircled by rebel forces – may lead to the collapse of the truce.
ceasefire in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine is now
in its third
day, but both sides are
reporting further shelling by their opponents. According to the OSCE, the ceasefire,
signed by the leaders of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine at a meeting in
Minsk on Feb. 12,is being observed in general, but the situation around
Debaltsevo remains complex. The truce came into force on Feb. 15.
situation remains tense around this town on the border of the Donetsk and
Lugansk regions that has been encircled by rebel forces. OSCE observers
have stated that they failed to enter Debaltsevo on Sunday, Feb. 15, because
they were not allowed into the area by the rebels.
Ertugrul Apakan, chief
monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, has called on both sides in
this regard to provide access for observers to all parts of eastern Ukraine.
to the Minsk agreement, the OSCE should ensure "effective monitoring and
verification of the ceasefire regime and the withdrawal of heavy weapons."
The withdrawal was set to start on the second day of the ceasefire.
‘A rather objective picture’
to Russian military experts, the ceasefire in Donbass is being observed on the
whole, but shelling is continuing in the area of Debaltsevo and the coastal
city of Mariupol. The analysts speak positively about the role of the OSCE and its estimates,
placing some hope in the organization concerning its support
for the implementation of the truce.
to Konstantin Sivkov, first vice-president of the Academy of Geopolitical
Issues in Moscow, the OSCE provides a rather objective picture of
what is happening in the Donbass, as the key European players – Germany and
France – are not willing to allow the Ukrainian conflict to expand.
"The OSCE documents the violations [of the ceasefire], and political
decisions are then made in Berlin and Paris," Sivkov told RBTH.
VIDEO: Fighting in Debaltsevo threatens ceasefire in Ukraine
of the Center of Military Forecasting, Anatoly Tsyganok,
also notes the positive role of the OSCE in the context of the current crisis.
"The OSCE is rather skilful at predicting the situation and making its
reports. The role of the organization has grown significantly over the past six
months," he said in comments to RBTH, attributing this to a
shortage of other tools for resolving the crisis in eastern Ukraine.
to Tsyganok, a representative of the organization played a positive role in
persuading the rebels to sign the agreement in Minsk.
Debaltsevo and the withdrawal of heavy weapons
are divided on how the situation around the "Debaltsevo pocket" will affect
the fate of the ceasefire.
to Sivkov, what is happening in the area of Debaltsevo was not specified in the
Minsk agreement, and therefore anything could happen
there. The Ukrainian troops will probably make
attempts to break through, but eventually they will give up, he said.
existence of the pocket will not affect the withdrawal of heavy weapons from
the contact line in other areas, Sivkov said.
same time, Tsyganok believes that the factor of the encircled Ukrainian troops will
"play a negative role in the implementation of the agreements in
According to him, the pocket may make it impossible for the rebels
to withdraw heavy weapons. There are only two kilometers between the
"pocket" and the contact line, from where the artillery and rocket
launchers should be removed, Tsyganok pointed out.
same time, according to Institute for Political and Military Analysis deputy
director Alexander Khramchikhin, "it is still not clear who and how will
control the removal of heavy weapons."
"Even if it is removed, to return it to its
original location is a matter of just a few hours," he said in comments to
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