This latest submission to our Combat Footage section was captured in the war-torn Donbass region of Eastern Ukraine. Filmed from a dashcam, it shows a routine search of a car taking place at a checkpoint in the city of Rovenky in the Luhansk region that is now incorporated into the self-declared rebel territory of the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR). The 63-year-old driver of the car was stopped under the suspicion that he was behind the murder of two police officers sometime before. The man attempts to escape and throws a hand grenade at the police. The police ran clear of the blast but it’s unclear whether the suspect died in the attack or escaped.

The Story Behind the War in Donbass

In 2014 as the pro-Western Euromaidan revolution swept across Kyiv and wider Ukraine, the government led by Viktor Yanukovych collapsed. In contrast to the Euromaidan protests, pro-Russian protests in the south-eastern regions of Ukraine, particularly Donetsk and Lugansk regions. These soon escalated into full-blown separatist movements

Around the same time, the largely ethnically Russian Crimea began to make it clear they wanted to separate from Ukraine. Russian soldiers with no insignia appeared on the strategic peninsula. Known as ‘the little green men’, these soldiers rapidly captured key positions and surrounded Ukrainian military bases. Crimea subsequently held a referendum that was largely unrecognized and achieved independence from Ukraine. Shortly after, Russian annexed Crimea with minimal violence.

Donbass

The nearby Donbass region, however, was not lucky enough to avoid widespread violence. What began as protests between the separatist movements and the new Ukrainian government soon deteriorated into full-blown warfare and the formation of two self-declared states: the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic.

By September of 2014, the separatist rebels and the Ukrainian government signed the Minsk Protocol. This agreement, co-signed by Russia and the OSCE, was established in order to create a lasting ceasefire. However, it hardly halted the conflict which continued to rage sporadically.

Donbass

During the early ceasefire period as agreements were being made about the lines between the separatists and the Ukrainian government forces, various warlords began to capture and control territory which meant further rapid deterioration of the security situation in Eastern Ukraine. By January 2015, the ceasefire was in ruins and full-scale warfare was underway between the two sides.

Some of the most infamous battles took place at the recently built Donetsk Airport and the city of Debaltseve. In a vain effort to stop the carnage a new agreement was drawn up in February 2015 called Minsk II. After it was signed, separatist forces launched a mass assault on the strategic city of Debaltseve and pushed Ukrainian forces out. Since then, the war has ground to a stalemate with people still being killed every month. Various international fighters have become involved on both sides.

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Batya (Батя) is the founder of Reaper Feed. He is an international security advisor and a high-risk expedition leader across former and active conflict zones such as Eastern Ukraine, unrecognized post-Soviet states, the North Caucasus, and the Middle East. Batya founded Reaper Feed to provide unprecedented insight into the lesser-seen sides of human conflict and modern warfare. He is from the UK but his work means he is based in various countries around the world.