19 Feb 2015

Ukrainian troops bitter and angry after Debaltseve falls to rebels

Whatever the humiliation of Kiev and the west – there is still firing around Debaltseve this morning. Artillery, rockets and small arms.

Movement here is thwarted as rebel forces clear anti-tank mines from roads in the area.

But around Vuhlehirsk the artillery that was battling Debaltseve yesterday is silent this morning.

Along the road a sophisticated surface-to-air mobile missile launcher stands ready, dug in at the blasted ruins of a filling station. It is almost certainly Russian and by no means the only one we have seen in the region.

The rebels speak of 3,000 Ukrainian soldiers killed in the battle of Debaltseve – 49 more killed overnight and 50 injured. Such figures should be treated with great caution – though many will have died in the long, attritional struggle.

And Ukrainians are emerging as bitter, angry men. Many speak openly of betrayal, confused orders and tactics, and feeling sold down the river by Kiev and President Poroshenko.

Read more: Disputed Debaltseve: a ‘ceasefire’ with a soundtrack of shell fire

They talk of sustained, heavy and accurate artillery fire raining down on their positions in Debaltseve for days on end. You wonder how a rag-tag army of rebel coalmines suddenly got so professional in the art of artillery, if it all happened without official Muscovite assistance?

Whatever – it leaves Poroshenko battered politically and militarily. It demands some kind of response from the west, from arms through to the UN.

Any UN force will fare no better here than the hapless OSCE peace monitors, turned away by rebels from roadblocks on a daily basis.

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3 reader comments

  1. Lapdog Media says:

    News not seen on Channel 4 ‘news’

    Hungary PM criticizes EU partners trying to isolate Moscow

    Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has criticized EU’s attempts to isolate Moscow, in particular blaming former Polish PM and President of the European Council Donald Tusk for spearheading the European anti-Russia crusade.

    “This rift in the EU is very deep, of a strategic nature,” Orban said regarding the division in the EU and on how to build the bloc’s relationship with Russia.

    The European Council President Tusk is “on the other side” of this dividing line, Orban said, a day after striking economic deals with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

  2. Chris says:

    A little more homework and you would know that there are over 80,000 veterans of Afghanistan, Chechnya and Georgia conflicts, all trained in ‘Russian’ armaments, command and control and tactical fighting.
    This was first highlighted in May 2014 by a Guardian journalist…

    Are you also aware of the US sending hundreds of millions of $ of arms and weaponry, CIA involvement and US mercenaries operating in Ukraine.
    S.2277 — 113th Congress (2013-2014) May 1st 2014
    (1) Anti-tank weapons and ammunition.
    (2) Anti-aircraft weapons and ammunition.
    (3) Crew weapons and ammunition.
    (4) Small arms and ammunition, including pistols,
    submachine guns, assault rifles, grenade launchers, machine
    guns, and sniper rifles.
    (5) Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles.
    (6) High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles.
    (7) Inflatable boats.
    (8) Body armor.
    (9) Fire control, range finder, optical and guidance and
    control equipment.
    (10) Explosive disposal and improvised explosive device
    detection equipment.
    (11) Mine detection equipment.
    (12) Chemical, biological, radiation, and nuclear
    detection, testing, and protection equipment.
    (13) Communications, logistic, combat support, medical
    equipment, rations, specialized equipment, and other defense
    articles, services, and training requested by the Government of
    Ukraine that the President determines to be appropriate.

  3. Miriam Day says:

    I would like to commend Alex Thomson on this report. Understated, even handed, giving a human face to both ‘sides’, including the vilified Russians, and conveying the dreary reality of war for the men fighting it – cold, chaotic, far from home. It’s a shame that the studio report that followed it was so partial, superficial and not up to the same standard – but thanks to Alex Thomson for putting himself in harms way and delivering excellent reportage.

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