The term "fog of war" refers to information. War is something dynamic (situation always changing), emotionally charged, and subject to secrecy, disinformation, misinformation, and other forms of perceptional distortion, so nobody really knows what's going on at any given time.
I was surprised to see the Prestige Media in the West (AP, New York Times, CNN, BBC, and so on) on Wednesday run headlines like "Ukrainian Army Retreats from Debaltseve". All the sources I was following (mostly pro-Ukrainian) agreed that there was an encirclement (pocket), a seriously bad situation, and that this pocket finally caved in around Tuesday and early Wednesday of this week, with many government casualties. A major rebel victory within the scope of the war so far. The Western major media was simply copying Kiev press releases, I think.
What is the truth of what happened at the place called Debaltseve (Debaltsevo in Russian)? After weeks of inaction by the Ukraine side, a breakout attempt occurred but how organized it was is unclear. What is clear is the Debaltseve vicinity is now under uncontested rebel control. The Ukraine president claims he ordered a successful withdrawal. Rebel sources say the government lose major casualties including up to a thousand prisoners surrendered. Independent journalists seem to favor the rebels' version of events:
It was unclear Wednesday [Feb. 18th 2015] how many of the thousands of Ukrainian soldiers trapped in the eastern Ukrainian town [Debaltseve] had survived the hellish retreat under enemy fire and avoided capture. President Petro O. Poroshenko put the figure at 80 percent, but since the Ukrainian military has never commented on its troop strength, the final accounting may never be known.
By midday on Wednesday, as limping and exhausted soldiers began showing up in Ukraine-held territory, it became clear that the Ukrainian forces had suffered major losses, both in equipment and human life.
"Many trucks left, and only a few arrived,” said one soldier, who offered only his rank, sergeant, and first name, Volodomyr, as he knelt on the sidewalk smoking. “A third of us made it, at most.” [NY Times]
In every war, on each side, we find hotheads and liars who seek to demonize the enemy (much worse than Kiev's seemingly false claim of an orderly withdrawal-- some government soldiers who escaped reportedly abandoned their equipment and flat-out ran for a few miles in the proper direction without stopping).
Certain people calling themselves journalists, sympathetic to the rebels, are now claiming to have discovered that "Ukraine government soldiers executed civilians" in the Debaltseve pocket. Why Ukraine government soldiers would arbitrarily "execute civilians" is beyond comprehension and not explained, but this is what's being broadcast now over Russian media, with supposed photographic proof, and presumably many believe it. The Ukraine side, which I support, is also capable of these kinds of malicious lies (and I assume the claim of executions of civilians at Debaltseve is just one of those typical war lies, born in the fog of war, and almost always quietly abandoned when the fog lifts.)