The ongoing situation in Ukraine has rapidly become one of Europe's deadliest conflicts in decades, leaving over 6000 people dead, according to numbers released in March by the United Nations. It's been one year since members of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic (DNR), a pro-Russia self-proclaimed state, seized the regional administration building and other prominent institutions across the Donetsk region, removed Ukrainian officials, and flew their own flag — which notably consists of the colors of Russia's flag.
On April 7, 2014, residents of the Donetsk region declared themselves an independent state, and called for a Crimea-style referendum to decide its future. While some wanted to join Russia, others sought to form a federal republic within Ukraine. Both sides have participated in an ongoing propaganda war.
The conflict heightened in July, when Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, headed from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down in eastern Ukraine, alleged by pro-Russia separatists. Then in September, Donetsk saw several fatal shelling from Ukrainian forces, which killed hundreds of civilians. The conflict in Donetsk quickly became a flashpoint for what has escalated into Ukraine's civil war, which has left thousands dead and an estimated 1.5 million displaced. Here's a look at some of the major moments from last year that followed the forming of the DNR.
Pro-Russia protestors in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, have occupied the regional council building and declared 'The People's Republic of Donetsk' (Photo by Frederick Paxton/VICE News)
Pro-Russia protestors in Donetsk, show a variation of the Russian flag inside an administrative building. (Photo by Frederick Paxton/VICE News)
Demonstrators gather in the streets of Sloviansk on April 12, 2014 the day that pro-Russian gunmen seized the city administration buildings and erected road blockades on routes into the city. (Photo by Harriet Salem/VICE News)
Pro-Russia protestors took control of Sloviansk, a city in eastern Ukraine, and occupied police and security services headquarters to demand a Crimea-style referendum. (Photo by Frederick Paxton/VICE News)
On International Workers' Day, pro-Russia protesters marched through central Donetsk in eastern Ukraine calling for a referendum on the region's future. Some wanted to join Russia, while others to become a federal republic inside Ukraine — all wanted to separate from the interim government installed after the Euromaidan revolution. About 300 pro-Russia fighters seized the prosecutor's office in Donetsk. (Photo VICE News)
The aftermath of a clash between pro-Russia rebels and pro-Ukrainian forces including Donbas Battalion and Right Sector in Karlovka. The fight was one of the first serious conflicts in eastern Ukraine. The Police inspect a dead body. (Photo by Harriet Salem/VICE News)
A wounded Donbas Battalion fighter is treated by medical workers. (Photo by Harriet Salem/VICE News)
A child in Sloviansk watches Russian President Vladimir Putin deliver an address on the television in late June while the city was under heavy bombardment and siege by Ukrainian forces. Both sides in the conflict have fought a vicious propaganda war. (Photo by Harriet Salem/VICE News)
Coffins being loaded on to the cargo "200" truck destined for the Russian border. (Photo by Harriet Salem/VICE News)
A residential apartment destroyed in an airstrike by Ukrainian forces on Snezhnoe on July 15th 2014. At least 10 people were killed in the attack. (Photo by Harriet Salem/VICE News)
A member of the pro-Ukraine battalion Right Sector shows off hand grenades in the group's base in the Dnepropetrovsk region close to the front line. (Photo by Harriet Salem/VICE News)
Pro-Russia DNR soldiers stand outside a damaged apartment block on the edge of the rebel stronghold of Donetsk (Photo by Phil Caller/VICE News)
The still burning remains of MH17. All 298 people on board the flight were killed when the plane was downed on July 17, 2014. (Photo by Harriet Salem/VICE News)
Ukrainian prisoners of war are lined up by pro Russian rebels before starting to search for the bodies of their dead comrades inside the destroyed Donetsk airport. (Photo by Phil Caller/VICE News)