Tamil Diplomat

Ukraine troops retreat from key town of Debaltseve

The Ukrainian president says his forces are making an “organised” withdrawal from the embattled town of Debaltseve. Petro Poroshenko said 80% of Ukraine’s troops left on Wednesday morning after several days of fierce fighting. Russia said Ukrainian forces had tried to fight their way out of the city after being encircled but Mr Poroshenko insisted they were never surrounded. The rebel advance on Debaltseve, which came in spite of the recent ceasefire agreement, has been widely condemned.

Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg said the rebels’ offensive had put the wider peace agreement at risk and urged Russia to “use all its influence on the separatists to make them respect the ceasefire”. He also called on Moscow to withdraw its forces from Ukraine, saying Russian troops, artillery and air defence units were still active in the country. Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted the rebels’ actions in Debaltseve had not violated the ceasefire because it was a rebel-held city when the peace agreement was signed last week.