On Sunday, recently elected President Petro Poroshenko vowed he would end two months of fighting with rebels in eastern Ukraine by the end of the week. Last week, however, the Ukrainian army suffered a series of setbacks in the Luhansk region and lost control of several checkpoints along the Russian border.
Separatist groups now say they have occupied up to 125 miles of the frontier, allowing for fighters, weapons and other goods to move across from the east. VICE News headed to a checkpoint in Luhansk to talk with a Cossack commander about his group's operations there and find out how he is "preparing for war."
In the towns of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, shelling is on the rise. Some civilians in the area were able to pack their belongings and flee, yet many more local residents are unable to leave. From housewives, to students, to local farmers, all are feeling the effects of the continuing crisis.