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KIEV, August 29. /ITAR-TASS/. Ukrainian border guards have been armed with anti-tank guided missiles to defend Mariupol and the Sea of Azov coast, the Ukrainian Border Guard Service said on Friday.
Earlier in the day, the Novorossiya news agency said the self-proclaimed republics’ forces had practically encircled the city of Mariupol in Ukraine’s embattled south-eastern Donetsk region.
“During the fighting overnight, the Novorossiya forces took control of the villages of Starchenkovo, Respublika, Zeleny Yar, Boyevoye, Malinovka, Demyanovka, Starodubkovka, Chervonoye Pole and Osipenko,” the news agency said.
“At present, the operational situation is the following: Donbass’ defenders blocked a section of the Mangush-Osipenko road. The clashes are continuing in Urzuf,” it said, adding that “chances are high that today (Ukrainian) punitive troops will be finally entrapped in Mariupol".
Earlier reports said Ukrainian units deployed near Novoazovsk had retreated to Mariupol. “Militias took control of checkpoints and strong points on the outskirts of the city, as well as a bridge across the Gruzsky Elanchik River.”
Mariupol residents said the regional administration and most of the military had left the city; food stores had run out of stocks, with cereals and sugar no longer available; and drivers were experiencing serious fuel shortages. “People are waiting for the Donetsk People’s Republic troops to come,” eyewitnesses said.
Militias have begun what they call a humanitarian-combat operation to push the Ukrainian army away from major cities and to stop its artillery strikes on densely populated residential areas.