Ukrainian Hind attack helicopter flying low towards Debaltseve

ARTYOMOVSK, Ukraine -- A flight of five of Hind Mi-24 attack helicopters churned through the afternoon sky on Feb 2, speeding low over the road into Artyomovsk's center as Ukraine’s army sent a huge column of reinforcements streaming towards its besieged positions in Debaltseve.

The last of a flight of five Ukrainian Hind attack helicopters (probably Mi-24s) flying low over Artemovsk in the direction of the front lines around Debaltseve. Sighted at 12:03, Monday 2 February 2015. Ukraine military spokesman Colonel Andrey Lysenko initially denied the use of choppers, when told about the video suggested they would only be used to transport wounded. Analysts expressed skepticism that five attack helicopters would be used to evacuate wounded from positions around 40km from the nearest hospital.

Ukraine’s hold on the area had looked precarious on the night of Feb. 1, with one Ukrainian National Guard unit even complaining they had been abandoned because other units had fled the city after separatist forces reached the outskirts.

Army generals appeared to have responded on Feb. 2 with reinforcements, but it may yet prove too little, too late for the thousands of Ukrainian soldiers battling to repel the Russian-backed forces’ offensive at Debaltseve. They now find themselves surrounded but for a single supply road under constant threat of attack.

Military officials were tight-lipped about the battle, with Ukrainian army spokesperson Colonel Andriy Lysenko refusing to comment beyond “all attacks were repelled” and initially denying Ukrainian choppers were in the air. When informed the helicopters had been caught on camera.

“I can’t comment on that, but I can tell you that Ukraine only uses helicopters for transporting wounded, they don’t attack people.”