This is eastern Ukraine.
Conflict broke out here in 2014 and it hasn’t ended.
There about 100,000 fighters
stationed here, which makes it one of the
most heavily militarized areas on Earth.
There are Ukrainian forces to the west and
Russia-backed separatist militias to the
Fighting between the two groups
occurs here along the contact line.
In 2015 after nearly a year of deadly
fighting, a peace agreement called for a
ceasefire creating this security zone.
The agreement was supposed to stop the
fighting and resolve the conflict
between Ukraine and the separatists, but
three years later the security zone
remains the most violent place in
The ceasefire is violated almost every single
day in East Ukraine, which reportedly
puts about 100,000 civilians
in the constant danger. Over 10,000
people have died since the conflict in
Ukraine began and about 1.5 million have
while both sides continue
to build up their forces.
The conflict began at the end of 2013,
when the Ukrainian government rejected
an association with the European Union
in order to build stronger ties with Russia.
The pro-Moscow move led to
massive protests in the capital Kiev,
which turned deadly by 2014.
Russia took advantage of the chaos and sent its
military in to annex Crimea in March.
A month later pro-Russian separatists in
the Donbass seized the cities of
Luhansk and Donetsk and declared them
independent from Ukraine.
The Ukrainian army moved to take the region back, but
Russia covertly joined the separatist
rebels, which led to fierce fighting for
several months. In February 2015
both sides settled on a peace agreement
called Minsk II. The deal laid down
conditions for a ceasefire in the
security zone, where heavy artillery
tanks and mortars were banned. Foreign
militaries, meaning Russia, had to leave
Ukraine. It also recognized the two
separatists areas the Donetsk People’s
Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic
and outlined how they could be
reincorporated back into Ukraine, but
despite the agreement none of that has
In order to understand why, you
have to know what Ukraine means to
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
Last one out of the Soviet Union please turn
out the light.
The vitally important Ukraine announced
independence for the
Republic, the people there are more
Russian than Ukrainian.
Much to fear, a separate
Ukraine would be a catastrophe.
Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire in the
19th century and the Soviet Union in the
20th, when the Soviet Union dissolved in
1991 its western territory broke into
independent states including Ukraine.
They formed a buffer between Russia and
Western Europe, but in the 90s and 2000’s
these countries started drifting
westward and many joined the EU.
By invading Ukraine, Putin was able to
destabilize and stop it from developing
a stronger relationship with Western Europe.
Russia continues to fuel the
fighting by supporting the separatists
and keeps its own military at the ready.
Meanwhile Ukraine’s government is forced
to devote resources to its defense.
Both sides have ignored the ceasefire so far
and a closer look at the frontlines
reveals just how unstable the region is.
The separatist rebels in the LPR and DPR
have funding, weapons, and the assurance
of thee massive Russian military behind
They are responsible for the
majority of the ceasefire violations.
On the Ukrainian side, the forces are a mix
of Ukrainian army soldiers and volunteer
These militias are funded by
Ukrainian oligarchs and members of
Some have far-right views and even have
attacked the Kiev government, but Kiev
continues to fund and arm these groups
It’s their only defense against
the Russia-backed rebels in the east.
So despite a cease-fire that could have
ended the conflict, there’s an active war
on the ground.
Both sides continue to
fire a heavy artillery on a daily basis
as a show of strength. Power, water, and
supplies are common targets and the
heaviest price is paid by the hundreds
of thousands of civilians trapped in the