“The rebel forces have claimed a ‘right’ to the town of Debaltseve; this is nonsense, the cease-fire agreement does not exclude any specific area,” Korsunsky said.
A pro-Russian separatist official said on Sunday that the cease-fire won’t apply to the town, referring to it as “our territory.” At least 16 people have been killed in the fighting at Debaltseve since the cease-fire came into force.
Russian-backed forces renewed artillery fire on residential buildings and infrastructure in Debaltseve on Monday and hit the town’s police station, Donetsk regional police chief Vyacheslav Abroskin told the press.
“Debaltseve was in the hands of Ukrainian troops at the time of the cease-fire. Therefore it should remain in Ukrainian hands,” Korsunsky said. The cease-fire agreement does not mention Debaltseve or any other specific region – all fighting is to stop, Korsunsky pointed out.
“The terrorist commanders should have issued orders to stop all fighting in the area.”
But Korsunsky explained that Ukrainian response to the rebel “provocation” would be restrained.
“The Ukrainian response to terrorist provocation in Debaltseve will be restrained; we will not use heavy arms as we do not wish to be blamed for an escalation.”
Korsunsky said that Ukraine would honor the cease-fire agreement at Debaltseve as soon as rebels stood down. “We are ready to pull down our heavy arms as the cease-fire agreement mandates.”
Ukrainian political response to the cease-fire agreement would not be long in coming, Korsunsky indicated.
The Ukrainian parliament is not in session, “but will provide a package implementing the cease-fire agreement and the IMF funding offer when it returns in two weeks,” he said.