Black Days of Ukraine
Civilians escape from a fire in a house hit during an air attack, in the village of Luhanskaya, Luhansk.
Donetsk and Luhansk are two self-proclaimed, pro-Russian ‘People’s Republics’ in the Donbass region in easternmost Ukraine. A 2001 government census showed that 74.9 percent of the population in the Donetsk region and 68.8 percent of the Luhansk region have Russian as a mother tongue. In April 2014, a month after Russian forces had entered Crimea in southern Ukraine, pro-Russian separatists seized parts of Donetsk and Luhansk. The Ukrainian government launched a military operation in response, and over the course of the summer the conflict escalated into full-scale hostilities. In August 2014 (and again in February 2015) Russian forces gave active support in training and equipment to the rebels. A ceasefire was signed in September 2014, but was repeatedly violated before breaking down completely.