Between 22 and 25 August 2014 a Russian "humanitarian convoy" crossed the border into Ukrainian territory without the permission of the Ukrainian government. Crossings occurred both in areas under the control of pro-Russian forces and in areas that were not under their control, such as the south-eastern part of Donetsk Oblast, near Novoazovsk. These events followed the reported shelling of Ukrainian positions from the Russian side of the border over the course of the preceding month.Head of the Security Service of Ukraine, Valentyn Nalyvaichenko characterised the events of 22 August as a "direct invasion by Russia of Ukraine".Western and Ukrainian officials described these events as a "stealth invasion" of Ukraine by Russia.
Russia's official position on the presence of Russian forces in Donbass has been vague: while official bodies have denied presence of "regular armed forces" in Ukraine, it has on numerous occasions confirmed presence of "military specialists" and used other euphemisms, usually accompanied by an argument that Russia "was forced" to deploy them to "defend the Russian-speaking population".By the end of 2017, OSCE observatory mission had accounted for around 30,000 individuals in military-style dress crossing from Russia to Donbass just at two border checkpoints it was allowed to monitor.
Subsequently, DPR and LPR insurgents regained much of the territory they had lost during the Ukrainian government's preceding military offensive. Ukraine, Russia, the DPR and the LPR signed an agreement to establish a ceasefire, called the Minsk Protocol, on 5 September 2014. Violations of the ceasefire on both sides became common. Amidst the solidification of the line between insurgent and government-controlled territory during the ceasefire, warlords took control of swaths of land on the insurgent side, leading to further destabilisation.The ceasefire completely collapsed in January 2015, with renewed heavy fighting across the conflict zone, including at Donetsk International Airport and at Debaltseve. Involved parties agreed to a new ceasefire, called Minsk II, on 12 February 2015. Immediately following the signing of the agreement, separatist forces launched an offensive on Debaltseve and forced Ukrainian forces to withdraw from it. In the months after the fall of Debaltseve, minor skirmishes continued along the line of contact, but no territorial changes occurred. This state of stalemate led to the war being labelled a "frozen conflict";the area stayed a war zone, with dozens of soldiers and civilians killed each month.In 2017 on average one Ukrainian soldier died in combat every three days.Since the start of the conflict there have been more than ten ceasefires, each intended to operate indefinitely, none of them stopped the violence.The latest new "comprehensive and indefinite ceasefire regime" started on 1 July 2018.But within hours both the DPR and the Ukrainian army and the LPR had accused each other of violating this truce.