Prior to the ceasefire agreement reached in Minsk on Thursday, the winter offensive launched by the Russian backed separatists of the Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) had claimed the lives of at least 220 soldiers and civilians.
As ceasefire talks were being discussed, there were reports of the DNR reinforcing their positions around the Ukrainian-controlled city of Mariupol. The capture of Mariupol is vital to the DNR's dreams of achieving statehood, with its port providing a link to the outside world.
In this dispatch, VICE News travels to the village of Chermalyk, located 20 miles north of Mariupol, where Ukrainian forces are preparing the defense of the city and using volunteer-made drones to gather intelligence on separatist positions.
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