As cease-fire talks continue at the NATO summit in Wales, Ukrainian forces are preparing for a World War II-style invasion of the city of Mariupol, in southeastern Ukraine, says Blue Force Tracker editor Nolan Peterson, who is reporting from Mariupol.
"The Ukrainian troops here are not giving a whole lot of value to the talks of a cease-fire," Peterson told Ed Berliner on "MidPoint" on Newsmax TV
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Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko sounded optimistic Thursday that a cease-fire deal will be signed Friday, according to a statement he made at the NATO summit.
"Tomorrow in Minsk a document will be signed providing for the gradual introduction of the Ukrainian peace plan," Poroshenko said.
However, Peterson said that "it sounds like there's a sharp disconnect between the reality on the ground and what we're hearing from Moscow and the NATO summit."
"I went out and visited the Mariupol airport today, where the Ukrainians have been building trenches — we're talking about World War I-style trenches here to defend a tank attack," he explained. "On the outskirts of the city, we've got civilians also helping to dig trenches."
"They're putting up artillery pieces and anti-aircraft artillery pieces around the city as well," he added.
"They're really digging into what they think is going to be a WWII-style invasion of the city," Peterson said.
"While leaders are talking about cease-fires and negotiations, it seems like things are actually escalating here," he said. "This afternoon, we started hearing some rumblings of what we thought was probably artillery fire."
"There was a rubble tank column moving toward Mariupol," he said. "The Ukrainian army was able to turn back the tank column, and we thought that perhaps there would be a lull in the fighting, but just a few hours later we started hearing the sounds of the artillery again."
According to Peterson, "the rebels advanced within seven kilometers or about four and five to five miles . . . from Mariupol."
President Barack Obama said Wednesday, speaking in Estonia,
that the conflict between Russian-backed rebel forces and Ukraine are "a moment of testing" for the Western nations to push back against the Kremlin.
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