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Can Kyiv Defend Itself? Illusions About and Options for Securing Ukraine’s Future


When and how will Ukraine become secure in the wake of continuing threats from Moscow? There is an idea – widely held in Ukraine and also popular with many in the West – that Ukraine can and should become militarily, economically, and politically strong enough to deter further Russian aggression. A combination of smart modernization, resolute reform, and deep transformation is seen by many as a panacea to Ukraine’s many problems, including its fundamental security issue. Throughout 2014-2016, Ukraine’s army has shown that it can fight. What the Ukrainian state needs to do now, however, is to generally reinvent itself and make its military, in particular, more solid, better trained, and truly combative in order to be able to contain Russian imperialism on its own.

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February 18: Ukrainian troops left the city of Debaltseve as a result of massed intense fire by the Russian Army and pro-Russian terrorists

February 18 – Ukrainian troops left the city of Debaltseve as a result of massed intense fire by the Russian Army and pro-Russian terrorists – according to Minsk agreements Ukrainian military couldn't fire back in order not to break "Putin's ceasefire". "This morning Armed Forces of Ukraine together with the National Guards of Ukraine have completed a planned and organized withdrawal of forces from Debaltseve", – said the president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, who led the operation.

February 18 – NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has spoken about the use of modern weapons by the militants of "People's Republic of Donetsk" and "People's Republic of Luhansk" against Ukrainian military near Debaltseve. He did not specify the kind of weapon.

February 18 – "I call on Russia to withdraw all its troops from the east of Ukraine, to cease all support of the separatists, follow Minsk agreements and pressure on the separatists to force them to comply with ceasefire", – said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

February 18 – 167 wounded were transported to Artemivsk from Debaltseve. It was impossible to pick up the bodies of many who were killed.

February 18 – The militants supported by Russia demonstrate a clear intention to expand their control over the region, recognizes PACE, – said the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Anne Brasseur.

February 18 – European Union should consider deploying a military mission to Donbas if Minsk agreements are not adhered to and the fighting continues, – said the representative of Ukraine to the EU Konstantin Eliseev in his comment to BBC Radio. "We must use all our efforts and capacities (not only Ukraine, but the US and the EU) to press Kremlin to stop military fighting. If this fails, we must talk about a plan "B". Perhaps, it is time for the EU to consider the possibility of a military intervention in Donbas".

February 18 – According to President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, in Debaltseve, the mission of Ukraine's Armed Forces was fully accomplished, despite the fact that the Ukrainian Army totally left the city. "This position and successes were very necessary in Minsk during the negotiations, and after Minsk. We could demonstrate to the whole world the real face of the bandits, separatists, supported by Russia, which took on the role of the guarantor and a direct participant of the Minsk negotiations," emphasized Poroshenko.

The head of the country clarified information about the encirclement of the Debaltseve fighters as well as about the massive deaths of Ukrainian soldiers. "We stated and proved that Debaltseve was under our controll, there was no encirclement. Our forces and divisions left in a planned organized fashion. They left with their full artillery, with tanks, with BNP, with SAU, with tractors, with automobile technology," stated Poroshenko. According to the President, those who left Debaltseve included the 128th Mountain Infantry Brigade, parts of the sub-divisions of the 30th Brigade, the 25th Battalion, the rest of the 40th Battalion, Special Forces, and the National Guard.

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