“It’s a second Ilovaysk”–Ukrainian reactions to Debaltsevo

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2/18/2015

“The Debaltsevo Cauldron had closed. It’s a second Ilovaysk.”

By Yuliana Skibitskaya

Translated from Russian and Ukrainian by J.Hawk

We have collected the statements from combat participants
and commentary from social networks concerning the events at Debaltsevo.

Dmitriy Gross, Deputy Commander, 25th “Kievan
Russ” Battalion

“We are under fire from mortars, Grads, self-propelled
howitzers, small arms, and lots of other stuff. There is close combat in the
streets. 90% of the civilian population had left. Debaltsevo is not fully
surrounded, but all roads leading into it are under militant [sic] fire. It is
practically impossible to enter the city.

“Gusar,” an officer of the 128th Brigade
(published on the Zerkalo Nedeli web site):

“We are facing the second Ilovaysk. It’s been five days
since the cauldron had closed. When the Donetsk Airport was taken, they lied to
people for five days that it’s under control. In reality it was the other way
around. Debaltsevo is under de-facto encirclement since five days ago. There
used to be a small path out, which they tried to use to break out. They lost
vehicles but broke out. The enemy occupied the commanding heights along the
road and has it covered with fire. People are telling us nice stories that
there are still communication routs, some detours, dirt roads…There was a road
like that, but as of yesterday the convoy of five vehicles that left Debaltsevo
yesterday lost all five of them. Only seven guys made it out. We don’t know
what happened to the rest.”

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Viktor Baloga, Politician [Transcarpathia oligarch, governor] (comment on facebook).

“Mr. President. You and I both know well that we no longer
control Debaltsevo. I’ll say more. Preventing the media from reporting the true
state of affairs will not help anyone. Our own HQ is lying worse than the
Russians. Moreover, the lies are obvious—there are so many people there that it’s
impossible to conceal the truth. My local guys are there, lots of them. But
since nobody is doing anything, they are losign faith.

You know what needs to be done, both in the military and
diplomatic sense. In other words, either we cancel the ceasefire which had
never existed for the entire region, switch on the artillery and send weapons and
ammunition in. Or we decide to withdraw. The decision must be made NOW!”

Deputy Commander of the 25th “Kievan Rus”
Battalion

“The situation in Debaltsevo is critical, very bad. 90% of
Debaltsevo is under their control. It is in operational encirclement. All three
roads to the city are mined and under dense enemy fire. Our higher command is
gone. The Sector command and commander were here. But in reality he abandoned
this position and caused  senseless losses.
The command is not in control of the situation here.”

Vitaliy Tilizhenko, volunteer (facebook)

“The Debaltsevo cauldron had closed! There is exfiltration
by small groups. Somebody is covering the withdrawal and holding positions,
gradually abandoning them and withdrawing. We have lost the police HQ and the
rail station in the morning. We lost 1/3 of our equipment at Ilovaysk. We’ll
lose 1/5th of all equipment, abandoning it because people are more
valuable, and there will be nothing to fight with, as always. All withdrawing
groups are falling into ambushes and are losing men and equipment. The ambushes
are growing stronger and more fortified with every hour, and the percentage of
people making it out of the cauldron is dropping. They won’t say this on TV.
Everything is great there. Pete [Poroshenko] outplayed everyone, no need for
martial law, Europe is concerned, etc.”

Debaltsevo Update, morning 2/17

“The separatists [sic] fired from all kinds of weapons, from
mortars to SP howitzers and Uragan rocket launchers. Our guys held their
positions to the last. We had no communications with them. They started to come
out of the city at night, in a column of trucks and APCs. There were many
wounded in the column. Our intelligence was able to find a relatively save path
out. Our guys broke into groups. ‘McCloud’s’ group went second. Tolya was behind
them. They fell into an ambush. Lost lots of equipment, but managed to break
out. But that corridor is now closed.”

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