MINSK, February 18 (Sputnik) – The president of Belarus has offered a guarantee for a safe withdrawal of Ukrainian troops and weapons surrounded in the area of Debaltseve in eastern Ukraine.
"We are ready to not just be a mediator, but to actually stop this conflict in the area of Debaltseve and to bring all of Ukraine’s military servicemen out of there under our guarantee so that they never fight again," Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said in Minsk.
Earlier in the day, deputy commander of the Donetsk independence militia Eduard Basurin told Russia's Rossiya-24 televison channel that approximately 3,000 Ukrainian troops remain surrounded in Debaltsevo.
On February 15, a ceasefire deal came into force in Ukraine. However, the Donetsk leader Alexander Zakharchenko said the truce does not apply to Debatsevo, and stressed that any attempts by Kiev troops to burst through the encirclement would be stopped. He later offered the surrounded troops an option to leave the area, provided they leave their weapons and hardware behind.