Meeting the Donbas Battalion: Russian Bullets, Not Ballots in Donetsk: Russian 1 day ago   11:55

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With the Ukrainian army struggling to contain the grab for power by the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) in the Donetsk Oblast, armed pro-Ukrainian militias have been quietly taking matters into their own hands.

One of these groups, the Donbas Battalion, has been attacking DPR checkpoints and occupied buildings. After two weeks of careful negotiations they finally agreed for VICE News to visit their clandestine base in what used to be a children's summer camp in the neighboring Dnipropetrovsk region. They were cautious about revealing their location as their last HQ was discovered and attacked by pro-Russia forces, forcing them to find an alternative.

We watched them train and interviewed their leader, Semyan, before being invited on an operation the following day. In the town of Velyka Novosilka, the Donbas Battalion tore down the DPR flag and replaced it with Ukraine's colors, reinstalled the pro-Ukrainian administrator, and lectured the local police on loyalty and duty — all at gunpoint. We then left Velyka Novosilka quickly, as there were reports of armed pro-Russia groups heading our way.

The Ukrainian army's "anti-terror" operation has so far failed to dislodge separatists from their strongholds in Sloviansk and Donetsk. But the flexibility of the Donbas Battalion, and other groups like it, could help turn the tide in Kiev's favor. Equally, they could help further destabilize an already volatile region. Yet with the Ukrainian presidential elections taking place on May 25, it's likely that Semyan and his men will be busy in the days ahead — and we'll soon find out.

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Comments 5747 Comments

Hollo WaldFee
03:05 on single shot; never forget how many bullets you got left!
Drew Silvervale
these separatists are piece of shit traitors to their own land and people. i never hire immigrants from donetsk or lugansk. they are all disloyal scum trash.
Enough is enough...
Abdullah Aydin
Ukrain you have my support from France, Russia to, aha
Abdullah Aydin
Dumbass counter strike
thrian 99 9
The new csgo update has awesome graphics
Bacchus Beast
Guys are using mats so they won’t get wet and dirty
Mikhail Gorbachev
1 thing is certain all ppl dont like the gov. of Ukraine
Idealist `
Support from germany!
I am so happy watching these proud ukrainians ripping the dnr flag and replacing them with ukraine flag, it feels so good.
Fabio Reche
Am i tbe only one who hears dumbass batallion?
allan rooney
just your typical ukraine nazi. move on, nothing to see here.
Demesvar Clerge
This is why we have the second amendment in America. We can do what they are doing if there’s a need to
Anu cheeki breeki iv damke
K vault boy
Suka blayt
Bernard TheMoose
This just looks like a day z server 😂
filip ciborowski
ukraine more like nazi dog breeding shit hole.
Dè'r 'Rés't Kanal
TROLLER95 :Jilenzz:
I wanna see Spetsnaz😂
This is just too crazy
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Bullets, Not Ballots in Donetsk: Russian Meeting the Donbas Battalion: Russian 1 day ago   16:08

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Almost 6 months after the Euromaidan revolution that toppled former president Viktor Yanukovych, Ukrainians went to the polls to elect a new president in the midst of an anti-terror operation to wrestle Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts back under Kiev's control.

The separatists of the Donetsk People's Republic openly threatened the election in the region and had stormed a number of electoral commissions and intimidated electoral workers. In response the Ukrainian military alongside its paramilitary proxies have been working to secure towns across Donetsk to ensure a safe election took place.

On Sunday morning as voting started across the country, Donetsk itself saw no voting take place so VICE News headed out to Krasnoarmiisk where voting was able to take place, under the watchful eye of local loyal-to-Kiev police and another paramilitary force, the Dinipro Battalion.

Back in Donetsk, supporters of the DPR held a rally in the square, denouncing the election and the other DPR bugbears, NATO, the Kiev 'junta' and the US. Despite the threats, the election did take place in a few towns across the region and the fact that it took place at all seemingly threatens the advertised control of the region by the DPR.

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