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Debaltseve (Дебальцеве)

Debaltsevo (Дебальцево)
Debaltseve railway station in 2010
Debaltseve railway station in 2010
Flag of Debaltseve (Дебальцеве)
Coat of arms of Debaltseve (Дебальцеве)
Coat of arms
Debaltseve (Дебальцеве) is located in Donetsk Oblast
Debaltseve (Дебальцеве)
Debaltseve (Дебальцеве)
Debaltseve (Дебальцеве) is located in Ukraine
Debaltseve (Дебальцеве)
Debaltseve (Дебальцеве)
Coordinates: 48°20′N 38°24′E / 48.333°N 38.400°E / 48.333; 38.400Coordinates: 48°20′N 38°24′E / 48.333°N 38.400°E / 48.333; 38.400
Country Ukraine
Oblast Donetsk Oblast
24.31 km2 (9.39 sq mi)
308 m (1,010 ft)

Debaltseve or Debaltsevo (Ukrainian: Деба́льцеве Debálʼtseve, Russian: Деба́льцево Debálʼtsevo) is a city in the Donetsk Oblast (province) of Ukraine. Administratively, it is incorporated as a city of oblast significance. The city is situated on the eastern edge of Donetsk Oblast, and borders Luhansk Oblast. In January 2014, the population was estimated at 25,525.[1] On 18 February 2015, after the Battle of Debaltseve, the town was captured by separatists forces from the Donetsk People's Republic.


Distance from Donetsk: by road - 74 km, by air – 58 km. Distance from Kiev: by road - 803 km, by rail - 797 km. The administrative boundary between the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts lies along the eastern limits of the city.

The city is located on a hill from which many Donbass rivers originate. The river Bulavin (a tributary of the river Krynka, Mius basin) originates in the southern outskirts of the city, the river Lozova (a tributary of the river Lugan, Seversky Donets basin) in the north-east, the river Sanzharivka (a tributary of the river Lugan) in the north, the river Skelevaya (a tributary of the river Lugan) in the north-west, and the river Karapulka (a tributary of the river Lugan) in the western outskirts.

Neighboring towns and villages[edit]

City districts[edit]

  • The "Centre" district occupies the central part of the city. Here the main administrative agencies are located - the City Council and the Executive Committee, the police department, the city communications centre and others. The railway station, locomotive depot and passenger carriage depot are also located here.
  • The "Cheriomushki" microdistrict is located in the western part of the city. It was built in the 1970s on drained swamps. It consists of four- and five-storey buildings. The district comprises Debaltseve College of Transport Infrastructure (currently non-operational), a secondary school № 4, a kindergarten № 4, and an Oschadbank office. On the outskirts of the district the Railway Hospital is located.
  • The Ryazantseva (local name - "Ryazan") settlement named in honor of the Civil War hero F.A. Ryazantsev and is located in the southeast of Debaltseve. The Znamyanka-Luhansk-Izvarine (M-04) highway passes through the settlement. The area consists of private houses. Here you can find a secondary school № 2. The Salty valley (Russian: Солёная Solyonaya) acts as a natural boundary to the east.
  • The Factory (Russian: Заводской Zavodskoi) settlement is one of the oldest districts of the city. It was founded in the late ХІХ century next to a mechanical factory. In Soviet times it was gentrified and landscaped. It consists of two- and five-storey buildings. The city sanitary-epidemiological station, Centre for Culture and Leisure (former factory Cultural Palace), an Ukrtelecom office, a kindergarten and a stadium "Avangard" are all located here.
  • The Tolstova (local name - "Tolstovka") settlement in the eastern outskirts of the city, is named after A.N. Tolstoy, Soviet writer who in "The Frosty Night" (Russian: "Морозная ночь" "Moroznaya Noch") described the events in Debaltseve station during the Civil War. The settlement consists of private buildings. There is the Central City Hospital and the Hill of Glory (Russian: Холм Славы Holm Slavi) in the area.
  • The "Eastern" (Russian: "Восточный" "Vostochniy") microdistrict is one of the "youngest" districts of the city and consists of typical five-storey buildings. According to a planned project the district should have been merged with another, the "50th anniversary of the Victory". However this was never followed through. A school, № 1, a kindergarten and a vocational training school can be found here. A pilot heating project was implemented resulting in the construction of an electric boiler house.
  • The Konyaeva settlement bears the name of N.N. Konyaev - a hero of two revolutions who on December 28, 1917 was shot dead on a platform of Debaltseve railway station. The settlement consists of private buildings and stretches along the railway. There is a city bakery and also both City & Railway Fire Stations in this district.
  • The "50th anniversary of the Victory" (Russian: 50 лет Победы Pyatdesyat let Pobedi) microdistrict consists of mixed buildings. Multi-storey buildings in the north of the district graduate into smaller private dwellings. The neighbourhood is on north-eastern outskirts of Debaltseve. The district is closely connected to the adjacent railway companies. There are a secondary school, № 6, a kindergarten and a militarized security facility of Donetsk railway in this district. It is also known as a train stop "The First Platform" (Russian: "Первая площадка" "Pervaya Ploschadka").
  • The "Festival" (Russian: Фестивальный Festivaniy) microdistrict is a "young" district which is located in the north of the city and consists of multi-storey buildings. There are many railway facilities (a carriage sorting depot, an asphalt factory, a track machine station № 9 (Russian: ПМС-9 PMS-9), a meteorological station, a sports complex "We", and train stops "Wheel" and "Meteorological" in this area.
  • The "March 8" (Russian: 8 Марта Vosmoye Marta) settlement is adjacent to the railway. The settlement is the northern outskirts of Debaltseve consisting of private houses. It is one of the most remote areas from the centre of the city. There is a school, № 7, a kindergarten and a Mechanical track repairing factory (Russian: КРМЗ KRMZ) in this settlement.
  • The Oktyabrskiy (Russian: Октябрьский посёлок) settlement is on the north-eastern outskirts of Debaltseve. It is the most distant district from the centre of the city. The settlement has railway branch lines to Chornukhine and Luhansk, and an access road to the Znamyanka-Luhansk-Izvarine (M-04) highway. A locomotive depot Debaltseve-Sorting is also located here The settlement is locally known as "The Second Platform" (Russian: "Вторая площадка" "Vtoraya Ploschadka") after a train stop.


Climate of Debaltseve
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average max, °C -4 -3,3 1,9 13,1 20,4 24,2 26,4 25,5 19,9 11,1 3,6 -1,4 11,4
Average temperature, °C -7 -6,5 -1,5 8,0 15,0 18,8 20,9 19,9 14,3 6,6 0,7 -3,9 7,1
Average min, °C -9,8 -9,3 -4,5 3,6 9,8 13,7 15,6 14,7 9,7 3,1 -1,8 -6,4 3,2
Rate of precipitation, mm 47,2 38,8 34,5 40,8 43,8 61,5 57,6 48,3 31,2 43,7 44,6 52,1 545


Pre-war period[edit]

Debaltseve city was founded in 1878 as a railway station due to the construction of the Catherine railway (special government railway of Russian empire built in 1882-1904). Though at that time this station was well-equipped, it had a number of disadvantages: lack of office buildings, nowhere to place inspectors, a railway hospital was a room with eight beds in a paramedic’s apartment. On December 1, 1878 regular train traffic commenced at the Donetsk coal line. The station has been built by landless peasants and poor people from surrounding villages. By 1897, 2048 people inhabited the village close by the railway station. From November 25 to November 27, 1898 a first strike at the station took place. 60 pointsmen were not working demanding reduction of a 16-hour duty shift.

Originally, "Debaltseve" (="Debal'tsevo" in Russian) is associated with the neighbouring village Illinka which in the 19th century was given to the State Counselor Ilya Deboltsov (born in 1747 - buried in 1827) for taking part in the suppression of the uprising of the Decembrists in 1825. After a while Illinka got its second informal name - Deboltsovka. That's how it was shown on maps of the 19th century, and the station which is based on the northern borders of the estate Deboltsova was named Debaltsevo.

In 1894, close to the station a mechanical factory was built that produced building trusses, spans of railway bridges, trolleys for narrow-gauge railway. On May 1, 1899 the first strike took place at the mechanical factory. First of all the strikers demanded to reduce the working day from 10 hours 30 minutes to 10 hours, secondly announce May 1 a non-working day, and lastly put an end to arbitrariness of masters and improve living conditions. After assuring strikers to fulfill their demands, the administration failed to keep to its promises. As a result, on May 3 workers left the factory half an hour earlier. With the support of local authorities and the police, businessmen suppressed the strike, completely rejecting the workers' demands. On the eve of the Revolution in 1905 Social Democratic party was created. Mechanics T.E. Batyschenko, A.I. Vaschaev, A.F. Svistunov, S.P. Fedoseyev and locomotive drivers G.G. Larkin, L.G. Martynenko joined the party. Debaltseve workers took an active part in the first Russian revolution.

At the beginning of February 1905 in protest against the crackdown on the peaceful rally of workers in St. Petersburg employees of Debaltseve mechanical factory stopped working for a few days. On May 1 together with the railway workers they arranged Mayovka in the forest.

In 1905-1908 a freight station and two depots were built. Carriage workshops were expanded as well. In 1911 Debaltseve population reached 20 thousand people. There were two small hospitals, an outpatient clinic, one parochial, one zemskaya (derivates from Zemstvo – elective district council in pre-revolutionary Russia) and one railway schools in the city.


During the February Revolution, the Civil War and up to the establishment of Soviet power in 1919, the city Debaltseve repeatedly passed "from hand to hand". At different periods of time in Debaltseve were Don Cossacks, and Denikin's forces and the Red Army. Already a few days after the October armed coup Central Council of Ukrainian People's Republic adopted the III Universal and they declared Debaltseve part of the Ukrainian People's Republic, the actual power in the city was established only during the reign of Hetman Skoropadskiy (from April to December 1918) when Donbass was occupied by the Austro-German troops. After in April 1918 troops loyal to the Ukrainian People's Republic took control of Debaltseve.[2]

In 1919, Debaltseve was attacked by an armored train "Power to the Soviets!" (Russian: “Власть Советам!” “Vlast Sovetam!”). The commander of the train was Ludmila Mokievskaya-Zubok (1896 – May 9, 1919, a Russian Red Army revolutionary, an active participant in the Civil War in 1918-1919, the only well-known woman - the commander of an armored train). During the battle for the station she died. But after the Bolsheviks took control over Debaltseve, troops of Lieutenant General Denikin fought the city back. The Soviet power in Debaltseve was established only by the end of 1919.

In 1921 Debaltseve received the status of uyezd city of Bakhmut (later - Yenakieve) district of Donetsk governorate of Ukrainian SSR. In 1921, among the workers - 65.9% were employed in the transport field (at the railway station and workshops), 15.7% - office personnel. In 1925 there was a reconstruction of the mechanical factory. Now it was equipped for blast-furnace and rolling production. Debaltseve received a status of a “city” in 1938. By 1939, there were water supply and electricity. There were built a Palace of Culture for 1200 seats and a stadium. Moreover, a branch of the Kharkiv Institute of Railway started to operate in the city.

World War II[edit]

In early December 1941 in Debaltseve direction offensive and defensive battles of World War II started. After German troops were defeated in the Red Army’s attack at Rostov-on-Don, the enemy began offensive operations on the final capture of Donbass. In this regard, the 52nd Italian division "Torino" and General Schwedler’s troops were sent. At the front of the 12th Army began a fierce battle. The Red Army represented by the 71st NKVD Brigade (consisting of the 95th Border Regiment, the 172nd, the 175th and the 176th Infantry Regiments), the 74th Infantry Division (consisting of the 78th, the 109th and the 306th Infantry Regiments) commanded by General Fiodor Sherdin, and the 176th Infantry Division as part of the 404th and the 591st Regiments (commander - Major General Vladimir Martsinkevich) resisted the enemy in this area.

The German superiority in manpower, machinery and aviation was clear and Soviet troops were forced to retreat after bloody battles. On December 2 the offensive began in the Luhan River direction. At the same time the Italian Division began to move towards Voroshilovgrad. The fiercest fighting lasted December 8 − 15. The Red Army inflicted heavy losses on the enemy. In the daily fight of December 8, 1941 at the station Borzhikovka units under the command of Martsinkevich killed 428 Germans (among them 3 officers), seized two 75 mm cannons, 1 mortar, 1 machine gun, 15 rifles, 7 submachine guns, 1 radio, 50 ammunition boxes (mortars), 5 ammunition boxes (cartridges), and a staff car with documents. During twenty-four hours on December 10, 1941 the Italian Division "Torino" by two regiments continually attacked positions of the 1st Motorized Infantry Battalion which repelled nine enemy attacks and made two counterattacks.

German troops sought at any price to complete the occupation of Donbass as fast as possible. Germany was in need of the biggest factories of the region, its natural resources.

On December 15 after multiple air raids supported by attacks of fresh infantry and motorized units, the enemy pressed the position of the 74th Infantry Division and fully occupied Debaltseve. However, some pockets of resistance in the city did not abate until December 22 when the soldiers of the 74th Division, the 95th NKVD Regiment and separate parts of the 71st Brigade burst in Debaltseve and captured the city. German troops suffered heavy losses in personnel; staff documents of the 117th Infantry Regiment were seized, as well as its banner, a war diary and record materials of personnel, and Iron Crosses meant for keeping up fighting spirit of the German soldiers.

But the German Army could not accept the loss of an important railway junction and brought up fresh reserves. Therefore, from December 23 to December 26 they continuously attacked Soviet troops which failed to fortify its position in the city. The fighting went on day and night. Soviet soldiers were fiercely fighting for each stone building. Fierce fighting took place near the military camp in the area of the district called The First Platform. On December 26 Soviet soldiers of the 74th Infantry Division were ordered to leave the city. Together with fighters from the 71st Brigade they left Debaltseve, took up and strengthened defensive positions at a height of 326.6 m, near the Tolstova settlement. The 95th NKVD Regiment remained there until March 1, 1942.

The fighting on the front line which went across the eastern boundary of Debaltseve did not stop even at the beginning of January 1942. The 176th Infantry Division went into the offensive, and captured settlements Komisarivka and Oktyabrskiy. Again street battles as well as sniper fire broke out in the city. Again Soviet troops were forced to retreat, fortified their positions along the eastern boundary of the city on the already controlled heights of a forest ravine. Here, the front line was stabilized until the summer of 1942.

On September 3, 1943 Debaltseve was captured from Nazi German troops by Soviet units of the Southern Front as a part of Donbass operation:[3]

Post-war period[edit]

During first “five-year plans” the railway station and mechanical factory underwent reconstruction. The factory started to produce foundry ladles, iron and slag carriages, gates for blast furnaces.

In the 1970s there were new multistorey microdistricts built, such as “Cheriomushki” (in the north-east of the city), “30th anniversary of the Victory” and "Eastern"; in the 1980s – the "Festival" microdistrict.

21st century[edit]

See also articles War in Donbass and Battle of Debaltseve

In 2014 the city was part of the area of an armed conflict and stayed for some time under the control of the Donetsk People’s Republic. Debaltseve was first damaged on July 24, 2014 − its central market burned down and a private house nearby was destroyed.[4] On July 25 militia counterattacked Ukrainian troops in the area of the city.[5] On July 26 there were reports that Ukrainian forces has been shelling the city with multiple launch rocket systems "Grad",[6] the attack was carried out from the side of Svitlodarsk city.[7] On July 28 in Debaltseve there were battles between units of militia and the Ukrainian army.[8] On July 29 Ukrainian forces managed to take the city under its full control.

On January 23, 2015 DPR forces launched an offensive on the city.[9] The main goal of this offensive was an encirclement of the Ukrainian forces and a formation of the "Debaltseve pocket".[10] When the sides started to exchange fire the city was cut off electricity, heating and means of communications. Local residents had to hide and stay in shelters for a long time. Even before the final assault public utilities were already not working in the city.[11] Early February Ukrainian authorities evacuated civilians from the city.[12]

On February 16 united DPR and LPR troops entered Debaltseve and started street combats. Two days later Debaltseve was taken by the forces of the two self-proclaimed republics. Before leaving the city Ukrainian troops destroyed railway infrastructure.[13] On February 18, 2015 DPR authorities announced the establishment of their control over the city. Alexander Afendikov was appointed to the post of mayor. On February 19 restoration work began.

Condition of the city[edit]

Video file: “One year later: Debaltseve still has not recovered from combat operations (February 2016)”

At the beginning of 2015 the city was significantly[14] destroyed during the fighting in this area. According to Mayor Alexander Afendikov, appointed by DPR authorities, 80% of the city was destroyed.[15]

On March 28, 2015 a train № 6603 Yasinuvata – Luhansk[16] started to work, passing by Yenakieve and Debaltseve. Taking into consideration that the contact network was destroyed,[13] a train operates on diesel traction. According to Russian media, 8,000 residents returned to the city in 2015 and representatives of the DPR aimed to repair the city before winter 2016.[17]


As of the Ukrainian Census of 2001:[18][19]


Local sights[edit]

  • Carriage depot: there are only two of them in Ukraine
  • Carriage depot’s House of Science and Engineering (Kalinina St)
  • DKZD (Dom Kulturi Zheleznodorozhnikov Railroad Workers’ Palace of Culture)
  • Sports complex “Lokomotiv”
  • City Centre of Cultural Activities and Entertainment (Zavodskaya St)
  • Club “Stroitel” (Kosmonavtov St)
  • Train station (architectural monument of the 19th century)
  • Monument to soldiers-internationalists (Sovetskaya St)
  • Monument to soldiers-liberators from Nazi occupants (Central Square)
  • Monument to heroes who died in Great Patriotic War (Zavodskoi district)
  • Monument to Ludmila Mokievskaya-Zubok, heroine of the Civil War in 1918-1919, a Red Army commander of an armored train № 3 “Power to the Soviets!”

Public services[edit]

  • 2 hospitals:
    • 465 beds,
    • 100 doctors,
    • 360 medical staff;
  • 7 kindergartens;
  • 7 schools;
  • 2 palaces of culture:
  • DKZD (Dom Kulturi Zheleznodorozhnikov Railroad Workers’ Palace of Culture)
  • “40th anniversary of VLKSM” (socio-political youth organization in Soviet Union, usually known as Komsomol);
  • A music school;
  • 1 stadium;
  • Sports palace “Lokomotiv”;
  • Sports complex “Mi”;
  • Junior sports school;
  • 20 libraries;
  • Local history museum (since 1966);
  • House of Pioneers;
  • Young Technicians Club.

Notable residents[edit]


  1. ^ Державний комітет статистики України. Чисельність наявного населення України на 1 січня 2014 року, Київ-2013 (pdf)
  2. ^ (in Ukrainian) 100 years ago Bakhmut and the rest of Donbass liberated, Ukrayinska Pravda (18 April 2018)
  3. ^ М. Л. Дударенко, Ю. Г. Перечнев, В. Т. Елисеев и др. (1985). Справочник «Освобождение городов: Справочник по освобождению городов в период Великой Отечественной войны 1941—1945». М.: Воениздат. p. 598.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ "Anniversary of first damages in Debaltseve. Burned down Central Market".
  5. ^ "DPR: First Ukrainian checpoint in Debaltseve is destroyed".
  6. ^ "Militia accused Ukrainian armed forces in using multiple launch rocket systems "Grad"".[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "Mass Media: Ukrainian army frees Debaltseve".
  8. ^ "Ukrainian troops entered Debaltseve".
  9. ^ "Militia reported about heavy fighting in the vicinity of Debaltseve - there are casualties".
  10. ^ "Situation in Debaltseve direction stays intense".
  11. ^ "There is no electricity, water and heating in Debaltseve. People are cooking on fire next to their dwellings (photo)".
  12. ^ Ukrainian authorities, rebels evacuate civilians from front line town, Reuters (6 February 2015)
  13. ^ a b "Troops of antiterrorist operation (ATO) destroyed railway junction before retreating from Debaltseve".
  14. ^ "OSCE monitoring officers saw signs of a humanitarian catastrophe in Debaltseve".
  15. ^ "New mayor of Debaltseve, Alexander Afendikov, gave the first interview".
  16. ^ "DPR Ministry of Transport opens a new passenger train to Luhansk starting from March 28".
  17. ^ "Returned residents raise Debaltseve from ruins".
  18. ^ "". Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  19. ^ Ethnic composition of Donetsk region(in Ukrainian)

External links[edit]