According to The Day news agency, "the official reasons for the withdrawal are the shelling of the city by the militants and the OSCE mission being unable to visit it. The withdrawal of troops began at 6 a.m. on February 18. This is another drama, even more demoralizing due to its obviousness and predictability. They expected it, they knew about it, but still reassured us that it would not happen. It is clear that Debaltseve was a defended city, but the high command did nothing to turn this truly strategic site into a real "springboard," the term they used as an alternative to "cauldron" to comfort us."
The news agency spoke to a serviceman maintaining direct communication with the Ukrainian soldiers in the areas of active hostilities. "It is not an orderly withdrawal, but rather an emergency evacuation. The 128th Brigade has suffered incredible losses," the source said.
Semen Semenchenko, a commander of the Donbas Battalion, posted on Facebook the news of a destroyed Ukrainian column and added, "We need to have a thorough investigation afterwards. At the moment, though, the most important task is to get the boys out of there."
"We can recall Ilovaisk here. Has anyone been actually held responsible for that tragedy and a number of others, manifesting what has become a systemic issue?" Valentyn Torba writes for The Day.