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Ukraine Cease-Fire Largely Holds Despite Reported Shelling in Debaltseve

Ukraine said pro-Russian rebels had shelled Ukrainian positions since a ceasefire came into effect Sunday, but the truce was generally being observed.

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine's military said on Sunday pro-Russian rebels had shelled Ukrainian positions ten times since a cease-fire came into effect at midnight, but that the truce was in general being observed.

The cease-fire, negotiated in four-power talks on Thursday, foresees the creation of a neutral buffer zone and withdrawal of heavy weapons responsible for many of the 5,000 deaths in a conflict that has caused the worst crisis in Russia-West relations since the Cold War a generation ago.

"As of the morning of February 15, there have been ten shelling attacks on our positions by rebels — mainly in the area of Debaltseve," spokesman Anatoly Stelmach said by telephone.

Another military spokesman, Vladyslav Seleznyov, said the cease-fire was being observed in general. "Shelling [by rebels] has been not regular and [has been] localized," he said. A senior pro-Russian separatist commander said on Sunday that, despite a cease-fire, rebels have the right to fire on Debaltseve because it is "our territory."

"Of course we can open fire [on Debaltseve], it is our territory... The territory is inside, it is ours," Eduard Basurin told Reuters by phone, saying that elsewhere separatists were observing the truce.


— Reuters