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The protesters held speeches about eastern Ukraine joining Russia. When that did not get a response, they instead started to use the term New Russia – the area that was conquered by the Soviet Union during the 18th and 19th centuries and which stretches southwards along the coast, down towards Odessa and Crimea. The idea was to redraw the map, so that Russia could be connected to the already annexed Crimea.The government in Kiev decided to crush the resistance in the east with an ”anti-terror operation”.Troops were dispatched to the front.The war had begun.Whether everything that happened was caused by tensions between the various national groups that had finally boiled over, or whether Putin was the evil chef stirring things up, or whether it was the EU’s alliance with Obama, or whether it was Ukraine’s oligarchs, is also a bone of contention.

The borderland country of Ukraine has been torn between forming either a western or an eastern alliance, and when the EU and Russia both reached out with proposed treaties at the same time, internal conflicts began to erupt.When the pro-Russian president Yanukovych was ousted after Maidan and the new Western-friendly administration in Kiev installed, Russia responded by seizing Crimea, hosting its naval base in Sevastopol.Putin said afterwards, ”We do not want to see any Nato ships in Sevastopol, the city of the Russian glory. That risk was real after the Maidan events, which is why we recaptured Crimea.”Russia was keen to keep Ukraine out of the EU as well as NATO and Europe ended up in a mess reminiscent of the situation before the First World War. But the difference is that now there are nuclear weapons – as well as online information warfare.

It looks just like the First World War. I convince Driving Gloves to take me to the front line without a permit. It is muddy, cold and grey and I almost get hit in the head by a grenade. The fighters are local men from Donetsk who say that they are fighting the fascists on the other side. Yet they themselves have a photograph of Stalin.The apartment blocks at the front are in ruins. Many have fled. There are 4.5 million IDP (internally displaced people) refugees. Some live in bomb shelters. Others try to live in places with hardly any floors or ceilings. The electricity and water comes and goes, the heating pipes and windows are broken.People are crying in apartments that have exploded. When did life become an inferno. Who is going to bring food or fix the buildings?