More Death, Destruction in Ukraine on Day Before Peace Talks


Russian soldiers and Russian-backed rebels in Ukraine assaulted Kramatorsk and surrounded Debaltseve on the eve of peace talks in Minsk, Belarus. The attack left twelve people dead and wounded thirty-one. Children are included among the wounded.

“Heavy weapons, most probably Smerch or Uragan, have been used today,” said Oleksandr Kikhtenko, governor of Donetsk Oblast. “They are definitely produced in Russia. Their kill distance reaches 130 kilometers.”

Mashable’s Christopher Miller was one mile away from the attack at a café. He reported: “the rumbling of a series of violent explosions shook its very foundation, and sent a dozen patrons screaming out the door and under their tables.” It is the first attack on the town since Kiev seized control in July 2014.

“Our experts are now working at the scene and have confirmed that cluster munitions were used,” claimed Vladislav Seleznez, spokesman for Ukraine’s General Staff.

After the attack, residents walked out to view the damage. They were greeted with death and destruction. From Mashable:

Lyudmila, 15, broke into tears at the sight of a middle-aged woman’s lifeless body, her face covered in blood, laying flat on her back in a residential courtyard some 50 feet from a large rocket shell wedged deep inside the earth.

“When will it stop?” Lyudmila, who declined to give her last name, shouted as three female friends comforted her. She did not know the woman, she said, but “it could have been any of us. We are safe nowhere!”

Those present in the area shared photographs on Twitter:

Igor Ilkiv, head of the medical department of the National Guard, told The Kyiv Post his group witnessed “a sharp increase in the number of killed and wounded soldiers and civilians over the last few days” in Debaltseve. On Monday, shrapnel hit two ambulances. Unfortunately, Ilkiv and others cannot enter Debaltseve due to the separatists and Russians.

“We tried to reach [the wounded] late last night, almost reached them, but they [the separatists] started shooting at us,” he said. “So we returned to avoid new deaths.”

Ilkiv did say the group maintained some connection to Ukrainians inside the city “and Lohvynove, which is located on the way to the city, remained under control of Ukrainian forces.”

The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany, and France are scheduled to meet in Minsk on Wednesday. Reuters reports the talks “will focus on withdrawing heavy weapons, creating a demilitarized zone in eastern Ukraine and starting a dialogue between Kiev and the rebels.” It is an effort to save the September Minsk agreement, which has been broken numerous times. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said the summit is the last chance for a ceasefire.

“Tomorrow’s meeting in Minsk is one of the last chances to declare an unconditional ceasefire and withdraw heavy artillery,” he announced.