The good, the bad and the ugly
How life has changed in three years in occupied and liberated Donbas
On April 12, 2014, a group of saboteurs led by GRU officer Igor “Strelkov” Girkin entered Sloviansk in Donetsk Oblast —the same group that had taken part in the annexation of Crimea. That day was the start of a bloody military conflict in Donbas that continues to this day. Later on, Girkin confirmed in one of his interviews that it was he and his gang that got the war going: “I’m the one that pressed the trigger of war. If our group had not crossed the border, everything would have ended up the way it did in Kharkiv and in Odesa. A few dozen dead, burned or arrested. And that would have been that,” he proudly recalled the events of spring 2014.
Today, those living in the occupied territories controlled by “Donetsk People’s Republic” and “Luhansk People’s Republic” (“DNR” and “LNR”) militia can only envy Kharkiv and Odesa, whose residents look in horror at what is going on in Luhansk and Donetsk.
Once considered the locomotives driving Ukraine’s economy and laying claim to a unique role in the state, these two eastern oblasts are now divided by frontlines and borders, destroyed by shelling and buried in a deep depres-
Come and go. Some separatist warlords that started the bloodshed in Donbas in 2014 have been liquidated. Some, such as Igor “Strelkov” Girkin (pictured first) have fled to Russia