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Ukraine: Mariupol digs trenches, prepares to defend city

Ukraine: Mariupol digs trenches, prepares to defend city
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Locals from Mariupol in eastern Ukraine have been digging trenches and are poised to defend what many fear will be the next battle zone.

Ukrainian authorities say that Russian-backed forces have made significant progress towards the strategic port city on the Sea of Azov.

Moscow denies direct involvement by the Russian military.

“I am a journalist, but first of all I am a Mariupol resident,” said Tatyana Ignatchenkop. “Yesterday I came here and filmed people working. Today I came here to help because I know that no one except us will defend our city.”

Last week pro-Russian separatists opened up a new front along the Sea of Azov and seized the town of Novoazovsk.

Meanwhile Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko explained how the border town of Novosvitlivka was captured.

“Russian tanks entered [Novosvitlivka] indeed and destroyed virtually every house,” said Lysenko. “Experts say it’s the Chechen style of the Russian army where they destroy every building if they suspect someone from the enemy’s side is in that building.”

Ukraine’s military says it has pulled out of areas east of rebel stronghold Luhansk because of pressure from what it describes as Russian-backed rebels.

Russia has repeatedly dismissed accusations from Kyiv and Western powers that it has send soldiers into its neighbour or supported pro-Russian rebels fighting a five-month-old separatist war in the east of Ukraine.