The unsatisfactory ceasefire in Ukraine was holding by a thread on Wednesday, as Ukraine said it was withdrawing troops from the eastern town of Debaltseve, a key railway hub that has been the site of ferocious fighting for the last few weeks.
Pro-Russian separatist groups continued to fight for control of the town early this week, in defiance of a ceasefire that was meant to have come into operation over the weekend.
The continued fighting infuriated Western leaders, who see it as a sign that Russian President Vladimir Putin has no intention of calling off hostilities in Ukraine.
The United Nations voted on Tuesday evening to ratify the ceasefire thrashed out last week between Mr. Putin and Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, with the backing of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French president, Francois Hollande. But even as the U.N. voted, U.S. ambassador to the United States Samantha Power said it was “ironic to say the least” that Russia was officially supporting the ceasefire while “backing an all-out assault” in Ukraine.
For now, the ceasefire is officially still valid, but Mr. Poroshenko told Ms. Merkel in a telephone call Tuesday that the ongoing fighting was a “cynical attack” on the agreement.
German defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen, meanwhile said she will now rethink Germany’s security strategy in the light of Russia’s aggression in the Ukraine.