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The Independent про Украину…

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Статья не очень большая…

Ukrainian forces are retreating from a key town where rebels appear to have emerged victorious after claiming that hundreds of government soldiers had surrendered or been captured.

President Petro Poroshenko declared that his forces were carrying out a “planned and organised” departure from the town of Debaltseve, which has been under siege by separatists for weeks and saw fierce battles yesterday despite a ceasefire declared on Sunday.

Speaking from a snowy airfield in Kiev before leaving for the frontlines, Mr Poroshenko praised Ukrainian forces, claiming they fulfilled their duty in defending the town and had shown the world “the true face of the bandits and separatists who are supported by Russia.”

About 80 per cent of Ukrainian forces had been withdrawn from Debaltseve with their weapons and another two columns were expected to leave today.
Vladimir Putin had earlier told Ukraine it should let its soldiers lay down their weapons and flee battles against rebels “to save their own lives”.

Separatists claimed hundreds of soldiers had already surrendered or been captured, although the numbers could not be confirmed.

The Russian President, who has denied persistent allegations that his government is arming the separatists, seemed to back the rebels in the battle for Debaltseve.
“I hope that the responsible figures in the Ukrainian leadership will not hinder soldiers in the Ukrainian army from putting down their weapons,” he said.

“If they aren’t capable of taking that decision themselves and giving that order, then (I hope) that they won’t prosecute people who want to save their lives and the lives of others.”

He added that he hoped the rebels would allow the Ukrainians to return to their families, once they had surrendered Debaltseve.
Thousands of Ukrainian troops were surrounded yesterday in the strategic railway hub as rebels seized parts of the town.

Gun battles were fought from street to street as mortar fire and rockets rained down on both sides, causing a huge explosion when a gas pipeline was hit.

Reuters journalists near the snowy frontline said artillery rounds were rocking Debaltseve every five seconds yesterday and black smoke was rising skywards as Grad rockets pounded the town.

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