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Ukraine: The Wait
Kiev, Ukraine
By Benas Gerdziunas
06 Dec 2015

Completed over the course of three trips to Ukraine in 2014/15, this multimedia piece explores the heavy silence of war - away from the war porn of frontline fighting and Western-Russain power plays. With Ukraine slipping back into the corrupt era of Yanukovich, the anxious wait for reforms, true independence and peace continues.

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Ukraine: The Wait 19
Mariupol, Ukraine
By Benas Gerdziunas
17 Oct 2015

Shells land 20 kilometers away. Four months later, in January 2016, a separatist rocket attack a few blocks away kills 30 civilians.

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Ukraine: The Wait 01
Mariupol, Ukraine
By Benas Gerdziunas
17 Oct 2015

Separatists’ diversionary raid on a railway bridge leaves passenger trains stranded in Mariupol, Donetsk region. After many months of idleness, the bridge was finally repaired.

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Ukraine: The Wait 07
Popasne, Luhansk Oblast
By Benas Gerdziunas
14 Oct 2015

[Radio chatter] Separatist positions report ‘111’ – ‘All clear’. Other call signs are ‘110’ – we’re being attacked; and ‘112’ – We’re attacking. It is believed, that the previously stationed Chechens and Don Cossacks have been replaced with regular Russian military combatants.

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Ukraine: The Wait 12
Kiev, Ukraine
By Benas Gerdziunas
14 Oct 2015

Ukrainian street musicians perform a song by a
Russian rock band, ‘Splin’

I want to fall asleep and never wake up
go away into the sea and not come back
or come back, but together

With you so much more interesting
with you so many interesting things around
and not even tight (suffocating)

Without the squares, railway stations, stops
without all these civilisations

One more sip - and we’re on fire
on one, two, three

Burn with fire, your third Rome
catch my rhythm
and dance, dance, dance, dance

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Ukraine: The Wait 15
Mayorsk, Donetsk Oblast
By Benas Gerdziunas
14 Oct 2015

The patrol passes along the village streets, dotted by drunk civilians and military personnel – a sign not so uncommon even before the war. Somewhere in the vicinity, a high ranking Ukrainian officer was assaulted and kidnapped with his armed escort a week before.

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Ukraine: The Wait 13
Zolote, Luhansk Oblast
By Benas Gerdziunas
30 Aug 2015

Sergei sits during night watch on the Permovaisk frontline, prepping his gun at the slightest noise in the distance; remains of an exploded 80mm mortar shell is a few meters away. In the morning, his face bathes in the warmth of a late summer’s sunrise.

“What a beautiful day, we all woke up alive.”

Sergei died on September 23rd during a skirmish, one day before he was due to return home.

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Ukraine: The Wait 09
Zolote, Luhansk Oblast
By Benas Gerdziunas
29 Aug 2015

“I came here to replace the guys who have been here for months without rotation, so someone can go home - not because I’m some big Ukrainian patriot,” says Vladislav, stationed in Zolote.

Even before the war, the old mining village was poor, with crumbling buildings dotting the streets. Now, with even less people remaining, pensioners gather for a daily market - made up of 5 stalls, overshadowed by a modest Lenin statue. Three blocks away, Ukrainian soldiers occupy the vacant houses, which are shelled on a nightly basis.

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Ukraine: The Wait 14
Popasne, Luhansk Oblast
By Benas Gerdziunas
29 Aug 2015

“One year ago, the commander put tanks in the first line, as if it was the Second World War; now you have accurate weapons – the whole crew died,” says one of the commanders.

The decrepit reminder of the war ruins the beautiful vista over the steppes of Donbas. Yet, the war is still on going, the steppes are the buffer zone, and the current trenches still scar the landscape, two meters behind the tank.

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Ukraine: The Wait 02
Kyiv
By Benas Gerdziunas
27 Aug 2015

Away from the headlines of Western-Russian power plays and war porn of frontline fighting; away from boys with a cause, imperial ambitions and the spectacle of war. What’s left is the chilling wait and anxiety. The sluggish nightmare immerses anyone unlucky enough to be caught up close – families stuck in the buffer zones, blaming elusive fascists,
as their men fight for the elusive Russians. The nightly grind of staring into the darkness of a frozen conflict, confined to the trench and radio transmitting enemy reports of your own movements; the sweeping apathy back home.

While Ukraine is slipping back into the corrupt era of Yanukovich, Eastern Ukraine is trapped in a disaster, which shows no signs of letting go. The anxious wait for reforms, true independence and peace continues.

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Ukraine: The Wait 08
Popasne, Luhansk Oblast
By Benas Gerdziunas
27 Aug 2015

The night passes peacefully, with sporadic pot-shots fired from the opposing lines; the Ukrainians do not respond. Without appropriate night-vision gear, the watch is spent chewing through bags of seeds – siemki, and a constant flow of tea and, if available, coffee.

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Ukraine: The Wait 11
Popasne, Luhansk Oblast
By Benas Gerdziunas
27 Aug 2015

Weapons sit idly, as the soldiers rest before the nightly grind.

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Ukraine: The Wait 06
Popasne, Luhansk Oblast
By Benas Gerdziunas
26 Aug 2015

After months without rotation, the prospects of an entrenched warfare remain bleak. Stationary frontline attritions grind is more reminiscent of World War One, than a 21st century battlefield. Faced with increasing apathy from their own society in Ukraine, many soldiers turn to bottle, or worst - chair and a rope – even if the problem has not yet reached epidemic proportions.

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Mike Skillt: Interview with a Swedish...
Kiev
By Cosimo Attanasio
22 Jun 2015

Interview with Mike Skillt from battallion Azov, the most popular foreign fighters in Ukraine.
After 6 years in the Swedish army, the prison and 5 years as civilian he decide to left his country and going to help his Ukrainian friends who fought in Maidan.
He joined in battallion Azov where he became sniper and instructor, actually his popularity convinced pro-Russian forces to put a price on his head (one million of dollars).
His baptism by fire in Mariupol, his reasons, his ethics and religion, but also the issue of foreign fighters in Ukraine, his price on head and the way to fight in the Ukrainian war.

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Mariupol's Jewish Community 23
Mariupol, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
08 Jun 2015

A local Jewish mother is teaching her young daughter how to enter a bomb shelter in their garden in case of an artillery strike.

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Mariupol's Jewish Community 24
Mariupol, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
08 Jun 2015

Mariupol’s Jewish community is spread out, and some members, like Natalia Lavushko and her husband, Grigory, live on the city’s outskirts—areas that would be early targets in the event of a new offensive. The Lavushkos have stopped renovating their modest house because Ukraine’s currency devaluation has eaten into their meager income.

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Mariupol's Jewish Community 25
Mariupol, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
08 Jun 2015

A young Jewish girl from the Mariupol community is writing on a board during classes inside the Chabad center.

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Ukraine: Brothers in War
Donetsk
By Lorenzo Giroffi
11 May 2015

This documentary encapsulates our seven-month long chronicle of the civil war in Ukraine's Donbass region – a silent war that, despite the declaration of two truces and the deafening silence of western media, continues to claim hundreds of victims.

We filmed and lived side by side either with pro-Russian rebels or with soldiers in the Ukrainian army. From Donetsk to Lugansk, passing by Debaltseve and Mariupol, we aimed to report the conflict and its hangover: from the drama of a population broken in two, the suffering of civilians, and the motivations of volunteers on both sides, to the risk of new and bloody catastrophes and the hellholes of illegal coal mines, new source of income for thousands of workers from the Donbass.

Textless, Natural Sound Version Available upon Request

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Volunteer Battalions Active 09
Kiev
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
05 May 2015

May 5, 2015, Kiev, Kiev Oblast, Ukraine. The volunteer battalions represent the most motivated and well trained units of the Ukrainian forces fighting the Russian backed separatists. Battalions like Azov and Donbass have been fighting since the beginning of the so called 'anti terrorist operation" in the spring 2014, often suffering heavy casualties against the better trained and equipped separatists. The amount of casualties taken sees a constant need for new recruits which can fill in the ranks before being sent to the front after a few weeks training in the Kiev area, such as ther base in the West of the capital. Young men who volunteer to join up the Azov battalion are being trained in the art of war with shooting practices, first aid, or even team work and PT training. New recruits are standing at attention before a training session. (Jonathan Alpeyrie/Transterra Media)

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Volunteer Battalions Active 10
Kiev
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
05 May 2015

May 5, 2015, Kiev, Kiev Oblast, Ukraine. The volunteer battalions represent the most motivated and well trained units of the Ukrainian forces fighting the Russian backed separatists. Battalions like Azov and Donbass have been fighting since the beginning of the so called 'anti terrorist operation" in the spring 2014, often suffering heavy casualties against the better trained and equipped separatists. The amount of casualties taken sees a constant need for new recruits which can fill in the ranks before being sent to the front after a few weeks training in the Kiev area, such as ther base in the West of the capital. Young men who volunteer to join up the Azov battalion are being trained in the art of war with shooting practices, first aid, or even team work and PT training. A group of Azov trainees are resting after an exercise. (Jonathan Alpeyrie/Transterra Media)

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Volunteer Battalions Active 11
Kiev
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
05 May 2015

May 5, 2015, Kiev, Kiev Oblast, Ukraine. The volunteer battalions represent the most motivated and well trained units of the Ukrainian forces fighting the Russian backed separatists. Battalions like Azov and Donbass have been fighting since the beginning of the so called 'anti terrorist operation" in the spring 2014, often suffering heavy casualties against the better trained and equipped separatists. The amount of casualties taken sees a constant need for new recruits which can fill in the ranks before being sent to the front after a few weeks training in the Kiev area, such as ther base in the West of the capital. Young men who volunteer to join up the Azov battalion are being trained in the art of war with shooting practices, first aid, or even team work and PT training. Recruits are learning how to use a tourniquet as if wounded. (Jonathan Alpeyrie/Transterra Media)

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Volunteer Battalions Active 12
Kiev
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
05 May 2015

May 5, 2015, Kiev, Kiev Oblast, Ukraine. The volunteer battalions represent the most motivated and well trained units of the Ukrainian forces fighting the Russian backed separatists. Battalions like Azov and Donbass have been fighting since the beginning of the so called 'anti terrorist operation" in the spring 2014, often suffering heavy casualties against the better trained and equipped separatists. The amount of casualties taken sees a constant need for new recruits which can fill in the ranks before being sent to the front after a few weeks training in the Kiev area, such as ther base in the West of the capital. Young men who volunteer to join up the Azov battalion are being trained in the art of war with shooting practices, first aid, or even team work and PT training. Recruits are learning how to keep a good position while using their machine gun. (Jonathan Alpeyrie/Transterra Media)

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Volunteer Battalions Active 13
Kiev
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
05 May 2015

May 5, 2015, Kiev, Kiev Oblast, Ukraine. The volunteer battalions represent the most motivated and well trained units of the Ukrainian forces fighting the Russian backed separatists. Battalions like Azov and Donbass have been fighting since the beginning of the so called 'anti terrorist operation" in the spring 2014, often suffering heavy casualties against the better trained and equipped separatists. The amount of casualties taken sees a constant need for new recruits which can fill in the ranks before being sent to the front after a few weeks training in the Kiev area, such as ther base in the West of the capital. Young men who volunteer to join up the Azov battalion are being trained in the art of war with shooting practices, first aid, or even team work and PT training. (Jonathan Alpeyrie/Transterra Media)

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Volunteer Battalions Active 14
Kiev
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
05 May 2015

May 5, 2015, Kiev, Kiev Oblast, Ukraine. The volunteer battalions represent the most motivated and well trained units of the Ukrainian forces fighting the Russian backed separatists. Battalions like Azov and Donbass have been fighting since the beginning of the so called 'anti terrorist operation" in the spring 2014, often suffering heavy casualties against the better trained and equipped separatists. The amount of casualties taken sees a constant need for new recruits which can fill in the ranks before being sent to the front after a few weeks training in the Kiev area, such as ther base in the West of the capital. Young men who volunteer to join up the Azov battalion are being trained in the art of war with shooting practices, first aid, or even team work and PT training. (Jonathan Alpeyrie/Transterra Media)

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Volunteer Battalions Active Pt. 1 21
Mariupol
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
02 May 2015

May 2, 2015, Shirokino, Donbass Oblast, Ukraine. With the Minsk II cease fire accords, Russian backed separatists and the Ukrainian army were ordered to withdraw all heavy weapons from the front lines in order to give the peace plan a chance to work. On most of the 450KM front line the agreement worked except in a few flash points such as Lugansk, Peske near the Donetsk airport and Shirokino near the port of Mariupol. In the past two weeks, the fighting between the two forces has increased dramatically, therefore putting the cease fire agreement in doubt, as many fear the fighting will erupt all along the line as it did last February. Near Mariupol, volunteer battalions like the Azov and Donbass units are fighting each day in the small town of Shirokino to keep control of the strategic town from separatists forces. Heavy fighting erupts on a daily basis. Donbass soldiers are occupying destroyed positions on the front lines facing separatists. (Jonathan Alpeyrie/Transterra Media)

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Volunteer Battalions Active Pt. 1 22
Mariupol
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
02 May 2015

May 2, 2015, Shirokino, Donbass Oblast, Ukraine. With the Minsk II cease fire accords, Russian backed separatists and the Ukrainian army were ordered to withdraw all heavy weapons from the front lines in order to give the peace plan a chance to work. On most of the 450KM front line the agreement worked except in a few flash points such as Lugansk, Peske near the Donetsk airport and Shirokino near the port of Mariupol. In the past two weeks, the fighting between the two forces has increased dramatically, therefore putting the cease fire agreement in doubt, as many fear the fighting will erupt all along the line as it did last February. Near Mariupol, volunteer battalions like the Azov and Donbass units are fighting each day in the small town of Shirokino to keep control of the strategic town from separatists forces. Heavy fighting erupts on a daily basis. A patrol of Donbass soldiers are returning to the line after entering separatists territory. (Jonathan Alpeyrie/Transterra Media)

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Volunteer Battalions Active 01
Shirokino, Donbass Oblast
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
02 May 2015

May 2, 2015, Shirokino, Donbass Oblast, Ukraine. With the Minsk II cease fire accords, Russian backed separatists and the Ukrainian army were ordered to withdraw all heavy weapons from the front lines in order to give the peace plan a chance to work. On most of the 450KM front line the agreement worked except in a few flash points such as Lugansk, Peske near the Donetsk airport and Shirokino near the port of Mariupol. In the past two weeks, the fighting between the two forces has increased dramatically, therefore putting the cease fire agreement in doubt, as many fear the fighting will erupt all along the line as it did last February. Near Mariupol, volunteer battalions like the Azov and Donbass units are fighting each day in the small town of Shirokino to keep control of the strategic town from separatists forces. Heavy fighting erupts on a daily basis. A Donbass patrol is moving to a new location as fighting flares up. (Jonathan Alpeyrie/Transterra Media)

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Volunteer Battalions Active 02
Shirokino, Donbass Oblast
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
02 May 2015

May 2, 2015, Shirokino, Donbass Oblast, Ukraine. With the Minsk II cease fire accords, Russian backed separatists and the Ukrainian army were ordered to withdraw all heavy weapons from the front lines in order to give the peace plan a chance to work. On most of the 450KM front line the agreement worked except in a few flash points such as Lugansk, Peske near the Donetsk airport and Shirokino near the port of Mariupol. In the past two weeks, the fighting between the two forces has increased dramatically, therefore putting the cease fire agreement in doubt, as many fear the fighting will erupt all along the line as it did last February. Near Mariupol, volunteer battalions like the Azov and Donbass units are fighting each day in the small town of Shirokino to keep control of the strategic town from separatists forces. Heavy fighting erupts on a daily basis. A Donbass commander is showing his men where the ennemy is as the battle heats up. (Jonathan Alpeyrie/Transterra Media)

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Volunteer Battalions Active 03
Shirokino, Donbass Oblast
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
02 May 2015

May 2, 2015, Shirokino, Donbass Oblast, Ukraine. With the Minsk II cease fire accords, Russian backed separatists and the Ukrainian army were ordered to withdraw all heavy weapons from the front lines in order to give the peace plan a chance to work. On most of the 450KM front line the agreement worked except in a few flash points such as Lugansk, Peske near the Donetsk airport and Shirokino near the port of Mariupol. In the past two weeks, the fighting between the two forces has increased dramatically, therefore putting the cease fire agreement in doubt, as many fear the fighting will erupt all along the line as it did last February. Near Mariupol, volunteer battalions like the Azov and Donbass units are fighting each day in the small town of Shirokino to keep control of the strategic town from separatists forces. Heavy fighting erupts on a daily basis. A Donbass sniper is firing his weapon at separatists soldiers near by. (Jonathan Alpeyrie/Transterra Media)

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Volunteer Battalions Active 04
Shirokino, Donbass Oblast
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
02 May 2015

May 2, 2015, Shirokino, Donbass Oblast, Ukraine. With the Minsk II cease fire accords, Russian backed separatists and the Ukrainian army were ordered to withdraw all heavy weapons from the front lines in order to give the peace plan a chance to work. On most of the 450KM front line the agreement worked except in a few flash points such as Lugansk, Peske near the Donetsk airport and Shirokino near the port of Mariupol. In the past two weeks, the fighting between the two forces has increased dramatically, therefore putting the cease fire agreement in doubt, as many fear the fighting will erupt all along the line as it did last February. Near Mariupol, volunteer battalions like the Azov and Donbass units are fighting each day in the small town of Shirokino to keep control of the strategic town from separatists forces. Heavy fighting erupts on a daily basis. A pair of Donbass troops are getting ready to fight as the battle heats up around them. (Jonathan Alpeyrie/Transterra Media)

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Volunteer Battalions Active 05
Shirokino, Donbass Oblast
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
02 May 2015

May 2, 2015, Shirokino, Donbass Oblast, Ukraine. With the Minsk II cease fire accords, Russian backed separatists and the Ukrainian army were ordered to withdraw all heavy weapons from the front lines in order to give the peace plan a chance to work. On most of the 450KM front line the agreement worked except in a few flash points such as Lugansk, Peske near the Donetsk airport and Shirokino near the port of Mariupol. In the past two weeks, the fighting between the two forces has increased dramatically, therefore putting the cease fire agreement in doubt, as many fear the fighting will erupt all along the line as it did last February. Near Mariupol, volunteer battalions like the Azov and Donbass units are fighting each day in the small town of Shirokino to keep control of the strategic town from separatists forces. Heavy fighting erupts on a daily basis. A Donbass soldier is waiting to fire his RPG 7 at passing separatists soldiers. (Jonathan Alpeyrie/Transterra Media)

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Volunteer Battalions Active 06
Shirokino, Donbass Oblast
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
02 May 2015

May 2, 2015, Shirokino, Donbass Oblast, Ukraine. With the Minsk II cease fire accords, Russian backed separatists and the Ukrainian army were ordered to withdraw all heavy weapons from the front lines in order to give the peace plan a chance to work. On most of the 450KM front line the agreement worked except in a few flash points such as Lugansk, Peske near the Donetsk airport and Shirokino near the port of Mariupol. In the past two weeks, the fighting between the two forces has increased dramatically, therefore putting the cease fire agreement in doubt, as many fear the fighting will erupt all along the line as it did last February. Near Mariupol, volunteer battalions like the Azov and Donbass units are fighting each day in the small town of Shirokino to keep control of the strategic town from separatists forces. Heavy fighting erupts on a daily basis. A Donbass soldier just shot his RPG 7 at separatists troops. (Jonathan Alpeyrie/Transterra Media)

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Volunteer Battalions Active 07
Shirokino, Donbass Oblast
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
02 May 2015

May 2, 2015, Shirokino, Donbass Oblast, Ukraine. With the Minsk II cease fire accords, Russian backed separatists and the Ukrainian army were ordered to withdraw all heavy weapons from the front lines in order to give the peace plan a chance to work. On most of the 450KM front line the agreement worked except in a few flash points such as Lugansk, Peske near the Donetsk airport and Shirokino near the port of Mariupol. In the past two weeks, the fighting between the two forces has increased dramatically, therefore putting the cease fire agreement in doubt, as many fear the fighting will erupt all along the line as it did last February. Near Mariupol, volunteer battalions like the Azov and Donbass units are fighting each day in the small town of Shirokino to keep control of the strategic town from separatists forces. Heavy fighting erupts on a daily basis. A Donbass sniper is shooting his rifle at separatists near by. (Jonathan Alpeyrie/Transterra Media)

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Volunteer Battalions Active 08
Shirokino, Donbass Oblast
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
02 May 2015

May 2, 2015, Shirokino, Donbass Oblast, Ukraine. With the Minsk II cease fire accords, Russian backed separatists and the Ukrainian army were ordered to withdraw all heavy weapons from the front lines in order to give the peace plan a chance to work. On most of the 450KM front line the agreement worked except in a few flash points such as Lugansk, Peske near the Donetsk airport and Shirokino near the port of Mariupol. In the past two weeks, the fighting between the two forces has increased dramatically, therefore putting the cease fire agreement in doubt, as many fear the fighting will erupt all along the line as it did last February. Near Mariupol, volunteer battalions like the Azov and Donbass units are fighting each day in the small town of Shirokino to keep control of the strategic town from separatists forces. Heavy fighting erupts on a daily basis. Donbass soldiers are seeking cover in a hallway as artillery fire starts to rain down on their position. (Jonathan Alpeyrie/Transterra Media)

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Volunteer Battalions Active Pt. 1 08
Mariupol
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
01 May 2015

May 1, 2015, Shirokino, Donbass Oblast, Ukraine. With the Minsk II cease fire accords, Russian backed separatists and the Ukrainian army were ordered to withdraw all heavy weapons from the front lines in order to give the peace plan a chance to work. On most of the 450KM front line the agreement worked except in a few flash points such as Lugansk, Peske near the Donetsk airport and Shirokino near the port of Mariupol. In the past two weeks, the fighting between the two forces has increased dramatically, therefore putting the cease fire agreement in doubt, as many fear the fighting will erupt all along the line as it did last February. Near Mariupol, volunteer battalions like the Azov and Donbass units are fighting each day in the small town of Shirokino to keep control of the strategic town from separatists forces. Heavy fighting erupts on a daily basis. WWII era 82mm mortar rounds are getting ready to be fired into separatists positions. (Jonathan Alpeyrie/Transterra Media)

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Volunteer Battalions Active Pt. 1 09
Mariupol
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
01 May 2015

May 1, 2015, Shirokino, Donbass Oblast, Ukraine. With the Minsk II cease fire accords, Russian backed separatists and the Ukrainian army were ordered to withdraw all heavy weapons from the front lines in order to give the peace plan a chance to work. On most of the 450KM front line the agreement worked except in a few flash points such as Lugansk, Peske near the Donetsk airport and Shirokino near the port of Mariupol. In the past two weeks, the fighting between the two forces has increased dramatically, therefore putting the cease fire agreement in doubt, as many fear the fighting will erupt all along the line as it did last February. Near Mariupol, volunteer battalions like the Azov and Donbass units are fighting each day in the small town of Shirokino to keep control of the strategic town from separatists forces. Heavy fighting erupts on a daily basis. Azov soldiers are observing suspecious people moving along the coast. (Jonathan Alpeyrie/Transterra Media)

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Volunteer Battalions Active Pt. 1 10
Mariupol
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
01 May 2015

May 1, 2015, Shirokino, Donbass Oblast, Ukraine. With the Minsk II cease fire accords, Russian backed separatists and the Ukrainian army were ordered to withdraw all heavy weapons from the front lines in order to give the peace plan a chance to work. On most of the 450KM front line the agreement worked except in a few flash points such as Lugansk, Peske near the Donetsk airport and Shirokino near the port of Mariupol. In the past two weeks, the fighting between the two forces has increased dramatically, therefore putting the cease fire agreement in doubt, as many fear the fighting will erupt all along the line as it did last February. Near Mariupol, volunteer battalions like the Azov and Donbass units are fighting each day in the small town of Shirokino to keep control of the strategic town from separatists forces. Heavy fighting erupts on a daily basis. Azov soldiers are digging near foxholes as the area is constantly hit by artillery fire. (Jonathan Alpeyrie/Transterra Media)

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Volunteer Battalions Active Pt. 1 11
Mariupol
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
01 May 2015

May 1, 2015, Shirokino, Donbass Oblast, Ukraine. With the Minsk II cease fire accords, Russian backed separatists and the Ukrainian army were ordered to withdraw all heavy weapons from the front lines in order to give the peace plan a chance to work. On most of the 450KM front line the agreement worked except in a few flash points such as Lugansk, Peske near the Donetsk airport and Shirokino near the port of Mariupol. In the past two weeks, the fighting between the two forces has increased dramatically, therefore putting the cease fire agreement in doubt, as many fear the fighting will erupt all along the line as it did last February. Near Mariupol, volunteer battalions like the Azov and Donbass units are fighting each day in the small town of Shirokino to keep control of the strategic town from separatists forces. Heavy fighting erupts on a daily basis. An Azov soldier came out of his bunker to talk on his cell during a lull in the fighting (Jonathan Alpeyrie/Transterra Media)