Some 2,000 Soldiers Encircled in Debaltseve – Kiev Lawmaker

© REUTERS / Gleb GaranichMembers of the Ukrainian armed forces are seen not far from Debaltseve, eastern Ukraine February 15, 2015
Members of the Ukrainian armed forces are seen not far from Debaltseve, eastern Ukraine February 15, 2015 - Sputnik International
According to senior Ukrainian lawmaker about 2,000 Ukrainian servicemen have been encircled in Debaltseve.

Members of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic army collect parts of a destroyed Ukrainian army tank in the town of Vuhlehirsk, about 10 km (6 miles) to the west of Debaltseve, February 16, 2015 - Sputnik International
Over 120 Ukrainian Servicemen Surrender in East Ukraine's Debaltseve
RIGA (RIA Novosti) About 2,000 Ukrainian servicemen have been encircled in Debaltsevo, a strategic transport hub in eastern Ukraine that has been hotly contested in recent days, a senior Ukrainian lawmaker who is also the commander of the pro-Kiev Dnipro volunteer battalion, said Tuesday.

Yuriy Bereza, the head of the Verkhovna Rada parliament's subcommittee on military security and defense, is the first high-ranking Ukrainian official to publicly recognize the encirclement of Ukrainian troops in Debaltsevo.

In an interview with Latvia's Baltkom radio station, Bereza said that "about 2,000 people" have been encircled by the self-defense forces of Donetsk and Luhansk in Debaltsevo.

East Ukrainian militias continue to tighten their grip on the government-controlled town close to the border between the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics.

The hostilities have raised concerns with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), a security body that helped broker last week's ceasefire that came into force on Saturday night. Later that day, OSCE observers complained they had not been granted access to the bitterly contested area around Debaltsevo. Militias denied receiving a request from the organization.

Earlier on Tuesday, a leader of the Luhansk republic said that militia forces had completely surrounded the town, making the territory their own.

Officials from the Donetsk People's Republic also said they would continue to evacuate civilians from the area. Debaltsevo residents have been trapped in their basements without steady access to food or running water for days.

The Minsk accord, which was agreed upon in Belarus, outlines the steps that need to be taken to bring peace to Ukraine. Aside from the ceasefire – its key provision – the truce stipulates a withdrawal of heavy weapons and access to humanitarian aid for people in the conflict zones.

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