Briefly about the most important today's events in our digest of events
that have happened in Ukraine today
Intensity of shelling slightly decreased; Debaltseve fired upon with Grad MLRSs
A slight decrease in the number of shell strikes on positions of Ukrainian troops was registered on the night of 17 February in the ATO area. Still, rebels were concentrating in the Debaltseve direction, the ATO press centre reports.
Popasna, Sanzharivka, and Chornukhine came under artillery and mortar fire.
The town of Debaltseve was fired upon three times with BM-21Grad Multiple Launch Rocket Systems.
In the Donetsk direction, insurgents mortared the village of Opytne and territories near the Donetsk airport.
In the Mariupol direction, outlaws shelled the settlement of Shyrokine.
In general, the enemy carried out 15 attacks on Ukrainian army positions overnight. Rebels fired at ATO forces 21 times in the past 24 hours - 5 times with artillery, and 19 with mortars and grenade launchers.
"The number of shell strikes and rebel deployment areas show once again that the enemy does everything possible to capture the town of Debaltseve. However, ATO forces relinquished no positions in the past 24 hours. Ukrainian military want peace, but won't give up their territories," the ATO headquarters reports.
Germany to ratify the EU - Ukraine Association Agreement on March 27
Bundestag President Norbert Lammert said at a meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko that Germany would consider the ratification of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement on March 27.
"Both parties discussed their mutual interaction ahead of Germany's ratification of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union. The head of state expressed hope that the Bundestag would ratify the agreement soon," president's press service reported.
Also, the president of the Bundestag asserted that a vote on the issue was scheduled for March 27 and assured that German MPs were giving increased attention to improving relations between Germany and Ukraine.
Pushilin asserted that rebels had no "moral right" to leave Debaltseve
Pro-Russian separatists cannot cease fighting for control over the surrounded town of Debaltseve "for moral reasons", one of the leaders of the so-called PRD, Denys Pushilin, said on Tuesday before "a scheduled Skype conference with the "Contact Group", as reported by Reuters".
According to him, militants are unable to pull back heavy armaments as agreed earlier, as long as Ukrainian military don't do the same thing. As reported earlier, an armistice was proclaimed in the east of Ukraine on Sunday, February 15 in accordance with the Minsk ceasefire deal dated February 12, to fulfil the September agreements.
Rebels continue to attack every now and then, and are attempting to capture the town of Debaltseve, for there are a railway junction and a convenient traffic interchange there.
The fate of Debaltseve was under question on February 12, amid rebels' claims regarding the encirclement of army positions; the General Staff of the Armed Forces denied the allegations.
Moskal: Rebels attack Popasna and Chornukhine
The ceasefire in the government-controlled territory of Lugansk region is not fully observed, with Popasna under attack and fierce fighting going on near the village of Chernukhine, a spokesperson for Head of Lugansk Regional State Administration Gennady Moskal announced.
"A relative lull was observed yesterday throughout the day and overnight in the Ukraine-held part of Lugansk region. There was no full ceasefire: the outskirts of Popasna came under fire. Apart from that, hostilities were registered near Chornukhine. There is no information about casualties among civilians," the spokesperson said.
ATO Headquarters: No prerequisites to pull back heavy armaments
Assessments of the situation in the east of Ukraine show that militants fail to observe the ceasefire, an ATO spokesman, Andriy Lysenko, told Interfax-Ukraine.
"Heavy weapons can only be withdrawn once the first provision of the Minsk agreement, which is ceasefire, has been fulfilled. As far as I know, there were shell strikes recorded in the past 24 hours. Which means, hostilities have not been ceased; thus, there are no prerequisites to pull back heavy weaponry," he said.
"The Ukrainian part has already prepared sites, where heavy weapons will be collected - a provision foreseen in the Minsk agreements. But these arms will be pulled back only after the first article has been implemented. Unfortunately, the information received in the past 24 hours shows that fire has not been ceased," Lysenko said.
ATO Headquarters: ATO forces control the section of the highway connecting Artemivsk with Debaltseve and Logvynove
The ATO Headquarters claim Ukrainian military control the highway connecting Artemivsk and Debaltseve, as well as the village of Logvynove, Donetsk region, a spokesman for the ATO headquarters, Anatoliy Stelmakh, told journalists as reported by Ukrainian News.
The highway is fully controlled by our servicemen, there are our checkpoints there; the road is under our control; ammunition equipment and food are delivered to army positions. Scheduled rotations of staff are also carried out, he said.
The ATO press-secretary added that the village of Logvynove situated at this highway was also controlled by Ukrainian military.
According to him, it affirms that ATO forces are not surrounded by rebels in Debaltseve.
Rebels destroy the town police department. Fighting for the rail road station
Rebels have destroyed the building of the town police department, the press office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Donetsk region reports with a reference to Chief Policeman of the MIA in Donetsk region Vyacheslav Ambroskin.
The press service assured that policemen were not affected. At present, they are cooperating with MIA special forces detachments deployed in the area, Ambroskin added.
As reported earlier, rebels announced that they were not going to cease fighting for Debaltseve despite the Minsk agreement.
This city is a strategically important transport hub. By controlling it, separatists would be able to take out goods from Donbas, including coal, not by trucks, as it has been so far, but by rail.
5 soldiers killed and 9 wounded in the past 24 hours in the ATO area
5 military were killed, and 9 others wounded in the area of the anti-terrorist operation in the past 24 hours, a spokesman for Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council, Andriy Lysenko, reported at a briefing.
He also added that battles were raging on the outskirts of Debaltseve; also, hostilities were going on near the railway station.
ATO Headquarters: Russia sideslips 12 IFVs and 54 trucks with ammunition
12 IFVs and 54 trucks with weapons have entered into Ukraine through the Izvaryne checkpoint, a spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council, MP Andriy Lysenko, reported at a briefing.
He also said that the enemy continued to carry out aerial reconnaissance using unmanned aerial vehicles. A border patrol spotted a UAV in the Mariupol direction.