February 18, 2015 5:17 PM EST

Ukrainian troops pulled out of the besieged town of Debaltseve on Wednesday as pro-Russian rebels advanced despite a cease-fire agreed upon last week.

The strategic town was the site of intense bombardment by rebel forces, and clashes left at least 22 Ukrainian soldiers dead in the past few days, according to Reuters. On Wednesday, President Petro Poroshenko announced the withdrawal of some 2,000 government troops, casting the move in a positive light as the end of an operation in the town.

The images above reveal the devastation that the fighting has wrought on troops and the local community around Debaltseve. The clashes have continued even after Russian President Vladimir Putin negotiated a cease-fire with Germany and France last week in Belarus.

 

Write to Noah Rayman at noah.rayman@time.com.

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