15 Feb 2015

Some rebel guns may be silent but Ukraine commanders say there is no ceasefire

The Tank waves us off with our escort, to meet The Baby. How these rebels love a nom de guerre.

The Tank at least resembles a 40 tonne, wide, squat, fighting machine. The Baby (you will be surprised to hear) is heavily built with several days’ growth, Russian-style stripey vest beneath military uniform and says he is a commander: not so much baby grow territory then.

And The Baby aka Commander Andrei Alexandrovich, is not a happy man: “This morning at around 9 am six shells were fired at one of my positions so no – there is no ceasefire.”

All across this morning in this region the distant sound of explosions and – once – the long, long, rumbling of a volley of Grad missiles detonating several miles away.

Ceasefire, anyone?

Close by to The Baby and his compound the images of this chaotic war pile up.

A forlorn pile of wreckage has been collected from the fields around this village from the Malaysian Airlines jet. Some departed soul’s suitcase among the random jagged sections of fuselage. It is split open and empty save for a small pile of greying snow.


Officials apparently know the wreckage is here but have yet to take it away to Holland even after all this time.

Nearby, a bazooka-like weapon and flowers mark the place where a rebel fighter was killed in a recent tank battle here. Just behind it, another price of plane wreckage.


Two memorials to the loss of life in this war.

A few miles away we meet The Greek. And we meet his emplacement of Howitzer artillery. All the time, again, intermittent rumbles and explosions from the direction of Debaltseve.

“You can hear all the firing going on, so there is no ceasefire happening,” he explains, standing in front of the silent and unmanned gun.

“We fired yesterday not today,” continues The Greek, “we won’t be firing unless we get the order to do so,” he adds.

You sense, hanging heavy in the air, a definite yearning for that order to come through.

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