Pro-Russian rebels and government forces fought street-to-street in a strategic town in east Ukraine on Tuesday and refused to pull back their heavy guns, all but scuppering hopes that a European-brokered peace deal will end months of conflict.
Two days after a truce went into effect, the agreement reached at all-night talks in the Belarussian capital Minsk last Thursday was unraveling rapidly.
The Moscow-backed rebels say the ceasefire does not apply to the main battle front at the town of Debaltseve, astride a railway hub, where they have a Ukrainian military garrison surrounded. They have continued an all-out assault.
Kiev acknowledged that rebels had fought their way into the town and captured some of its troops defending it.
We have to go all the way back to last week, and the day the agreement was signed, to re-read my not-so-bold prediction that “Putin will be back for more.”