Feb 18, 2015
By Michael Kramer
The secretary general of NATO says he is “deeply concerned” about the deteriorating situation around the Ukrainian town of Debaltseve.
In Riga, Latvia – Jens Stoltenberg said the refusal of pro-Russian separatists to respect a ceasefire – threatens the accord reached recently in Minsk.
Stoltenberg has urged Russia to end its support for the separatists – and to withdraw its forces and military equipment from eastern Ukraine – in accordance with the Minsk agreements.
He was speaking to reporters in Riga ahead of the meeting of the EU defence ministers.
Stoltenberg says the separatists should halt all their attacks “immediately” and allow OSCE monitors full access to the Debaltseve area.
The NATO secretary general says Russian forces, artillery and air defence units, as well as command and control elements, are still active in Ukraine.
Stoltenberg’s comments follow a report that the strategic rail hub of Debaltseve has fallen rebel forces – after weeks of intense fighting.
The Russian-backed rebels say they have taken hundreds of Ukraine soldiers captive.