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In Ukraine, a Glaring Exception to the Ceasefire

Neither side removes heavy weapons from Debaltseve
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2015 7:15 AM CST
Despite Ceasefire, Ukraine Fighting Drags on
A Ukrainian armored vehicle drives on the road between the towns of Debaltseve and Artemivsk, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 16, 2015.   (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

(Newser) – A ceasefire in Ukraine was supposed to begin early Sunday, but the town of Debaltseve is seeing its worst clashes yet. Both rebels and the government are claiming to have control of the town, the BBC reports. Outside Debaltseve, relative peace has held—but rebels see the town as an exception to the ceasefire, with one telling the BBC it's "internal territory." Observers have been unable to access the town even as the Ukrainian military reports five deaths in 24 hours.

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Neither side appears to be following a deadline to pull heavy weapons from the area; each side says it's waiting for the other to get started on the withdrawal. Rebels are due to meet with international officials later today to discuss the matter, USA Today reports. Some 5,000 Ukraine troops are in the city, which USA Today describes as an important rail hub. The US is condemning the separatists' latest moves: "These aggressive actions and statements by the Russia-backed separatists threaten the most recent ceasefire and jeopardize the planned withdrawal of heavy weapons," says a state department official. President Obama could send more weapons to government forces, pending further developments. (Read more Ukraine stories.)

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