(Black Sea, Ukraine)
Today, the Russian Ministry of Defense released a photo of ongoing Russian naval exercises in the Black Sea. Located within the Black Sea is the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula. Officially, Crimea is claimed by Ukraine but has been under Russian occupation since December 2014.
Just north of the Black Sea are the self-declared People's Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, proto-states recognized by the Russian Federation. Formed by Russian-speaking Ukranian separatists, these protostates have been at war with the Ukranian government since the occupation of Crimea.
Tryokhizbenka, Luhansk was shelled on the 9th by Ukranian forces. Heavy shelling and skirmishing continues today on all sides of the Ukraine-Donetsk border. Wildfires within the city of Donetsk due to the ongoing fighting are reported daily.
The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine reports from Donetsk: "OSCE's Hug during the 3rd International CIMIC conference in Kyiv: We've documented the sides can stop the fighting as they promised to do. We've documented they, after almost four years, have not decided to change their military logic into a civilian, a peace logic Ukraine."
The ongoing civil war in Ukraine has been a hot topic of international debate. Ukraine has expressed a desire to join the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and has made efforts to end it's dependence on Russian energy sources.
The history of Ukranian-Russian relations dates back in the modern era to 1917 when the Red Army under Lenin and Trotsky waged a bloody pogrom against the Ukranian people, creating an artificial famine that starved millions of people. Ukraine finally capitulated to Soviet rule in 1922.
Ukraine was also the site of one of the most successful experiments in anarchism: the Free Territory of Ukraine. Enjoying the protection of Nestor Makhno's Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine, the Free Territory existed from 1917 to 1921 and protected over a million Ukrainians from all foreign armies, including the Red Army, the White Army coalition of anti-communists, and the remnants of Tsarist rule. Historians agree the Free Territory collapsed due to the famine and an inability to form adequate supply lines.
In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed and the first Soviet Republic to declare independence was Ukraine. Since then, Ukraine has struggled for self-determination in a post-Soviet world and for decades has been moving soundly out of the Russian sphere of influence.
Revan Filiaexdeus is a freelance journalist and social activist who has been following the Syrian Civil War since it's origins in the Arab Spring of 2010. He is passionately dedicated to an objective covering of these events and works with organizations such as syriancivilwarmap.com and southfront.org