For three weeks, the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, the capital of the so-called Donetsk Peoples Republic, has faced a near-constant barrage of deadly shellfire. Hundreds of civilians have been killed as the Ukrainian army slowly encircled Donetsk and pro-Russia forces fought for control of what is strategically the most important city.

With the Ukrainian army having made sweeping gains since late June, the rebels announced a counter offensive to relieve the siege of Donetsk and other cities under their control. On August 25, rebel forces brought over a number of armored vehicles and tanks from the Russian border on the southern coastline. They quickly made a push towards the coastal city of Mariupol, but were stopped at the town of Novoazovsk after a skirmish with Ukrainian troops and volunteer forces. 

VICE News headed to Novoazovsk to investigate claims of Russian involvement, and found terrified civilians trapped in the shelling, along with desperate Ukrainian forces angry at their lack of reinforcement from their leaders in Kiev.

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