World War 3? Debaltseve, Ukraine May Be The Flashpoint For 'Total War,' Warns Experts

The battle for Debaltseve, Ukraine, continues even as diplomats attempt to hold together the ceasefire agreement. Some experts are warning that this fight may be the tipping point toward "total war," and possibly even World War 3.

In a related report by the Inquisitr, a top U.S. Army commander in Europe claims that Russian troops are already fighting in the front lines alongside the Ukrainian separatists. A satellite analysis also revealed secret Russian shelling attacks on Ukraine. Some experts claim that giving Ukraine military aid would result in a proxy war between the U.S. and Russia, but others say Vladimir Putin already believe Ukraine is being given weapons.

Debaltseve is a strategic railway hub between the main rebel-held cities of Donetsk and Lugansk. As of Thursday, 90 percent of government forces from Kiev had been withdrawn from Debaltseve, Ukraine, essentially leaving the town in separatist hands. Even as politicians spoke of peace, soldiers said they have endured weeks of hard combat, followed by a hasty retreat.

"We left under heavy fire, driving on back roads," said a Ukrainian soldier, according to the Associated Press. "As we were leaving, we were attacked by artillery and grenade launchers. We came under repeated attack by tanks and assault groups."

The deputy head of Ukraine's presidential administration, Valeriy Chaly, says the battle for Debaltseve may destroy any hope of a lasting ceasefire.

"The hopes for peace are being destroyed," Chaly claimed during a news conference in Kiev, according to AFP. "Russia and the DNR [the rebels' breakaway Donetsk republic] are not abiding by the agreement underpinning the truce."

According to the Herald Scotland, other experts warn that the results of the battle may put Ukraine on the brink of "total war," which risks drawing in both the United States and Russia into a larger conflict.

"If this cease-fire collapses, it's hard to see the Ukrainians coming back to the negotiating table. Don't expect a third or fourth Minsk agreement," warns Steven Pifer, the director of the arms control and non-proliferation initiative at Brookings and a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. "If the cease-fire continues to unravel, we could see total war in eastern Ukraine."

According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Ukraine death toll stands at 5,665 people killed, with 13,961 people injured in the same time frame.

[Photo by ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/Getty Images]