'Pro-Russian forces encircle Debaltseve in E Ukraine'
Iran Press TV
Tue Feb 10, 2015 10:27AM
Pro-Russian forces in east Ukraine have reportedly surrounded the key transport hub of Debaltseve, amid raging violence between the militias and government troops.
Pro-Russians announced on Monday that they had cut off a key supply road to Debaltseve, near the Donetsk city in the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic (DPR).
However, the Ukrainian military has denied the claim, saying the battle still rages on.
Clashes in the country's volatile east intensified in early February as both government troops and pro-Russia forces struggled for the control of the strategic town of Debaltseve, which links the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Fighting continues prior to a German-French initiative for peace talks in the Belarusian capital, Minsk on Wednesday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko, along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the French leader, Francois Hollande agreed in a phone call to hold a summit in Minsk to revive an earlier deal inked between Ukraine's warring sides.
However, President Putin warned that he would not accept any ultimatums over the crisis in Ukraine.
The last round of the peace talks on Ukraine collapsed on January 31, with the envoys of pro-Russia forces and Kiev trading blames for the failure of the negotiations.
On September 5, 2014, the representatives of Ukraine, Russia, and the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk sealed a ceasefire deal in Minsk; however, both the Ukrainian military and pro-Russia forces have reportedly violated the truce almost on a daily basis.
Donetsk and Luhansk have been the scene of deadly clashes between pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev's military operation started in April 2014 in a bid to crush the protests.
Violence intensified last May after the two flashpoint regions held local referendums in which their residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Ukraine and joining the Russian Federation.
The fighting has left more than 5,300 people dead and over 1.5 million displaced, the United Nations says.
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