90 Ukrainian troops captured in Debaltseve: Kiev military
Over 90 Ukrainian soldiers have been captured near the city of Debaltseve in eastern Ukraine, while the location of 82 others is unknown after pro-Russia forces took control of the strategic town, the country’s military says.
“Engaging in uneven confrontation with the enemy forces at one of the frontline sections of the Debaltseve foothold, over 90 servicemen of the Ukrainian armed forces were captured. The General Staff is also searching for 82 soldiers whose whereabouts is unknown at the moment,” read the statement issued by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry on Thursday.
Reports also said that 13 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 157 injured during clashes with pro-Russia forces in Debaltseve as the Ukrainian forces were leaving the violence-wracked area.
The new clashes came despite a ceasefire deal recently inked between the warring sides in eastern Ukraine. Kiev and pro-Russia forces accuse each other of violating the truce.
East Ukraine ceasefire deal
During peace talks in the Belarusian capital city of Minsk on February 11-12, the leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine agreed on the withdrawal of heavy weapons from Ukraine’s front lines and a ceasefire, which officially went into effect at 2200 GMT on February 14.
Back in September 2014, the representatives of Ukraine, Russia, and the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk had also signed another ceasefire deal in Minsk. However, the truce was violated on an almost daily basis by both the Ukrainian military and the pro-Russia forces, and thus failed to deliver any practical result.
Source of conflict
Donetsk and Lugansk are two mainly Russian-speaking regions in eastern Ukraine, which have been hit by deadly clashes between pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations in April last year to crush pro-Russia protests there.
In May 2014, the situation in the two flashpoint regions started to worsen as residents overwhelmingly voted for independence from Ukraine in referendums.