Ukraine Forces Give Up Key Town

Separatists gain control of Debaltseve rail hub
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Feb 18, 2015 6:49 AM CST
Updated Feb 18, 2015 7:13 AM CST
An Ukrainian soldier rests on his vehicle near the road between the towns of Debaltseve and Artemivsk, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 16, 2015.   (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

(Newser) – A ceasefire in Ukraine didn't stop fighting in the rail hub of Debaltseve, which links two rebel strongholds. Now, government troops are withdrawing from the area in what the Wall Street Journal calls a big setback; Ukraine had previously said it would hold the town as it grappled with losses elsewhere, and the move may weaken President Petro Poroshenko while affirming the separatists' power, the Journal notes. Some 80% of units in the town have departed. "The priority must be saving the lives of the Ukrainian troops," said Russia's foreign minister; the BBC reports that he called on rebels to feed surrendering Ukraine troops.

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