President Petro Poroshenko’s call for peacekeepers to be deployed to monitor Ukraine’s fragile truce has failed to win widespread support.
In Kyiv, EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn focussed instead on the need for parties involved in the conflict to respect the ceasefire.
On the ground, one group of Ukrainian troops could hardly contain their relief at getting out alive from the strategic town of Debaltseve. Back on government-held territory, they smiled and took photographs of each other.
Thousands of weary and demoralised government soldiers withdrew from Debaltseve on Wednesday in one of the worst defeats suffered by Kyiv in 10 months of fighting.
Pro-Russian rebels have maintained that the ceasefire did not apply to
Debaltseve, suggesting they may now observe it, having captured the town.
Western countries say Russia is behind the rebel advance, deploying thousands of troops with advanced weaponry into eastern Ukraine to fight on the separatists’ behalf. Moscow denies this.
With fighting continuing in places, the international leaders behind the latest Minsk accord have agreed to make a new attempt to enforce the ceasefire.