The combat actions started near Debaltsevo a few days ago are still underway. The self-defenders have been pushed a bit back but have not ceded the commanding hill, former Defense Minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, the leader of the Russian National Movement Igor Strelkov has told EADaily.
“I am not surprised that the Ukrainians are moving towards Debaltsevo. Their key precondition for the implementation of the Minsk agreements is that the self-defenders should cede Debaltsevo as the first version of the agreements mentioned Debaltsevo as their territory. They say, ‘Before proceeding to the other points, would you be so kind as to go away from Debaltsevo back to the positions you held as of Jan 1, 2015.’ By saying this, they are showing their ‘Minsk’ ambitions. But, of course, we are not going to do this,” Strelkov said.
“As of today, the Ukrainians have pushed us some 1.5 km back and are now trying to capture the 220th high point. This will not be easy as there are some minefields around, and besides, we have artillery support. They would not have advanced at all. Simply, most of our heavy vehicles were deep in the rear,” Strelkov said.
Now, according to him, the sides are engaged in some local fights. “Each side is using one or two battalion groups and artillery. This time they are much more active than they were before and have lost almost 100 men in total, but, of course, each side says that the enemy has lost more,” Strelkov said.
He noted that Debaltsevo is not the only strategic point on the frontline. “The self-defenders have ceded one more point near the village of Donetsky, Zhelobok. Time will show how things will develop there. If the Ukrainians try to move forward, we may see intensive fights near Donetsky. There are constant fights near the Donetsk Airport, near Maryinka and near the village of Kominternovo. There the sides are fighting all the time. Simply, before they were fighting at nights and now they are fighting round-the-clock,” Strelkov said.
On Dec 18, the Ukrainians attacked the armed forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic near Debaltsevo. As a result, after a short period of peace and recovery, that town has found itself under fire again.