This time this sure looks official: the Russian TV channel REN-TV has announced that the Debaltsevo cauldron has been finally closed, just north of the city of Debaltsevo itself and not further north up the highway where this had been expected. The same reports say that the DNR and LNR forces met, so we are not talking about holding the highway under direct artillery fire anymore, but about Novorussian forces actually digging in across the highway and truly closing it down. Earlier this evening, Colonel Cassad was reporting the highway still not closed, but if you look at his map, you can clearly see the location where the two forces apparently joined a few hours later (right over the word ДЕБАЛЬЦЕВО).
|Map from Colonel Cassad|
I took a quick look at militarymaps.info and here is what I saw there:
|Debaltsevo on militarymaps.info|
On this map the Novorussian units have still not closed the cauldron. Weird.
So who is right?
My gut feeling that the cauldron has probably been closed. My guess is that the junta was so concerned about this that it sent two SU-25 to provide close air support to the surrounded junta forces (both aircraft were shot down). This was probably a last desperate attempt to prevent the cauldron from closing.
We should know soon.
No major developments elsewhere along the line of contact.