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Residents return to Donetsk in anticipation of possible ceasefire, but Mariupol remains on alert

Thursday, September 04, 2014 - 01:57

Residents who had fled the rebel-stronghold of Donetsk begin to return to their hometown in anticipation of a ceasefire in Ukraine, but in the southeastern city of Mariupol, the coast guard is on alert in case of a possible rebel attack. Mana Rabiee reports.

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A checkpoint near the eastern Ukrainian rebel-stronghold, Donetsk. Families who had had fled the city are now starting to come back...hoping for, even anticipating, a possible ceasefire after five months of war. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) DONETSK RESIDENTS, TATIANA VIKTOROVNA AND HER HUSBAND VALERY, SAYING: "We are tired of wandering about. We want to go home. We want to live home. It is getting colder and we have no clothes." Pro-Russian separatists want to break away and join neighboring Russia, which Ukraine and the West believes is funding the rebels. Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed a roadmap to end the violence and peace talks are scheduled for Friday in Minsk. But diplomatic exchanges this week between Moscow and Ukraine's central government in Kiev had no immediate impact on the ground, with government forces shelling the outskirts of Donetsk overnight. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) SELF-PROCLAIMED DONETSK PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC MILITIA OFFICER, MIKHAIL, SAYING: "I don't know what's going to happen next, but at the moment the situation is more or less stable here. I think the situation will be even calmer and we will kick Ukrainian forces even further towards Kiev." Hope, perhaps, in Donetsk but in the southeastern port city of Mariupol, the coast guard is on alert. Last week, rebels turned the tide in the fighting with a dramatic advance that scattered government troops along the coast. The military and civilians alike are reinforcing Mariupol, the next big city in the path of the rebels. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) ALEXEI PETROV, CAPTAIN AT MARIUPOL COAST GUARD BASE, SAYING: "The situation around Mariupol is complicated as you know. Our unit works under these tough conditions and it is ready to defend the territory and the dignity of the country." NATO leaders have given words of support to Ukraine during their summit in Wales, but they're also scrambling to find a response to the biggest confrontation with Moscow since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

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Residents return to Donetsk in anticipation of possible ceasefire, but Mariupol remains on alert

Thursday, September 04, 2014 - 01:57