The town of Debaltseve where war between the Ukrainian forces and the Russia-led separatists is raging, the former retreated from the town on orders from Petro O. Poroshenko, President of Ukraine. The Ukrainian forces avoided surrender by retreating overnight, and abandoned the town to the separatists. President Poroshenko reported the retreat as a positive development.
Despite the ceasefire agreement signed in Minsk, Belarus, only the last week, intense fighting had been going on recently. The Ukrainian forces’ withdrawal from Debaltseve, a strategic transportation hub, though hailed by the President as an achievement, was a setback for the government forces. However, by avoiding capture, Ukrainian forces could avoid handing separatists a powerful bargaining situation. As per the leaders of the separatists, the case-fire agreement of Minsk was not applicable in case of Debaltseve; however, there were no exceptions declared at the time of signing of the cease-fire agreement.
It was a fact that President Poroshenko decided not to handover Debaltseve to the separatists at the time of the Minsk agreement, and the Ukraine had to pay the cost in the form of a number of causalities. Both in a televised statement from Kiev and a post on Twitter, President claimed the retreat as “planned and organized”, and that the Ukrainian forces had accomplished a mission. As many as 8000 soldiers were there in the town that could have been captured, and have handed separatists a great scope for bargaining. As per Poroshenko, 80% of the troops had already withdrawn from the embattled town. Exhausted and limping soldiers reached on the Ukrainian side of the frontiers on Wednesday by midday, and their conditions showed harrowing experiences for them after the order for retreat at around 1 am. As per a sergeant named Volodomyr, many truck loads of soldiers that left the town could not reach the destinations as vehicles were blown up, and they had to flee on foot even. Out of around 100 trucks only a third could arrive at safe places although all of them are reported to have escaped encirclement.
The order for retreat was a guarded secret until the last minute, and soldiers were allowed only 10 minutes to prepare to withdraw and board trucks. The column of trucks shielded from both sides by tanks and tracked vehicles drove through fields rather than main roads that extensively mined. The column was attacked immediately after its departure, and vehicles collided in the darkness as headlights were off to avoid spotting. By the morning, the convoy was under fire from all sides. Many of the soldiers hit and wounded were left in the snowy fields as they were huge in numbers and could not be transported as trucks were damaged. However, efforts were subsequently made to retrieve the injured soldiers.
The order of President Poroshenko for retreat came after the separatists claimed control of the town, and President Putin of Russia suggested Ukraine at a press conference in Hungary to accept defeat at Debaltseve. Russia is believed to be adding and abetting separatists in Ukraine. The cease-fire agreement negotiated among Mr. Poroshenko, President Putin of Russia, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, and French President Francois Hollande was agreed upon on Thursday, but its implementation was delayed till Sunday. Poroshenko claimed that he favored immediate implementation, but was delayed at Russia’s behest. Commenting on Minsk agreements, Poroshenko said stopping the aggressor was the need of the hour