Ukraine in 2014 broke down and the country was divided in two: the pro-Russians and the pro-Ukrainians. Down in the Southeast, armed groups were formed and they took over a large number of cities and towns. Before long they got the support they needed from Russia and the war was on.

Russia then came in and annexed Crimea (who the hell just cuts part of a country off, this is the 21st century!) There have been a number of cease-fire agreements since 2014 (Minsk Agreements) but in all honesty these are not worth the paper they are written on. We are now in 2016 and the war continues to go on. The difference is that now no one cares, or people think it’s over. I can tell it still goes on every day in the Southeast of Ukraine. People on both sides are injured or died from mines and shelling. So what is the Minsk Agreement when did it come about?

 September 5 2014 the first Minsk Agreement came in called the (Minsk Protocol) but just two days later it was broken.

 February 12 2015 (Minsk II) was introduced. I can tell you this, I was in Shorykener with the Azov battalion and fighting went on everyday down there till April.

So how is the Mink agreement holding up today in 2016? Well nothing has changed. Violations from both sides happen on a daily basis. Right across the front line both sides will say, “we were shelled or came under small arms fire and of course we responded in kind.”

During my most recent time there I know of three major incidents. In the first, a Ukrainian solider stepped on a landmine while he was out on a recon patrol. He died from his injures. But that is not the most shocking part, it’s the fact that his teammates left him for over two days because they were too scared to go and recover the body. Of course the excuse is that they came under small arms fire after they tripped an Mon 50 (claymore).

The second incident involves four Ukrainians who died when their trench came under artillery fire. It is said that the Ukrainians had asked for support, but it was denied as it would break the agreement.

Ukraine timeline of events and what Russia has really been up to since 2014

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The last is that a special group had managed to cross the Ukrainian mine field, the Russian mine field, and storm a trench in the middle of the night killing three to four separatists. Meanwhile daily mortar strikes from both 82mm and 120mm plus small arms fire continue through the night. I think it’s safe to say the Minsk agreement is a complete failure. This is just one small area across a very large contested front line, but the above happened when I was there in 2016.

In my eyes, the Minsk agreement is not benefiting the Ukrainians in any way. In fact it hinders their movements. Despite what you think or might know, (and I am not just saying this because I have fought on the Ukrainian side), the separatists don’t in anyway agree to this cease fire (Minsk). And the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) is the biggest waste of time, money and resources. The OSCE are there to monitor the situation and to ensure that both sides agree to the Minsk agreement, but most of the time get chased away from the pro-Russian side or they put on a show for them to say, ‘look we are not doing anything, it’s them.’ It’s a complete joke. I have been on the front lines in Ukraine for over a year and both sides do it. They hear the OSCE are coming and everyone plays nice, and when they leave it’s game on.

So we have an agreement that does nothing, one organization which is a complete waste of time, and none of this helps the side which in my eyes needs to win this war — the Ukrainians. I mean let’s face facts, it’s their country. What right do the separatists have to turn around say, ‘well we want to be a part of Russia.’ If they want that they can move their asses to Russia, it would be a whole lot easier.

Now in 2016 the Ukrainian army is for ready war thanks to help from British and American training teams with other NATO members contributing. The defense industry has boomed with the war. New gear, weapons and vehicles are being made in Ukraine ready for the war with input from guys fighting on the front lines. You hear from a number of military persons saying that we are ready now. Back in 2014 we had no army, now we do. We can take back our land.

But as you know that thing called Minsk stands in the way of taking this war to them. That’s what is needed in order to finish this. Both sides don’t want peace right now, so there is no point bringing in NATO peace-keepers when there is no peace to keep.

The separatists cannot just keep occupying the land they have. They simply don’t have the resources to look after their people. We must not forget that this land also belongs to Ukraine, not Russia. So let the Ukrainian army do what they have been trained for and take back the land they have lost. Push them right back to the border then put in the NATO peace keepers. If Russia takes action against NATO, then it’s time to show Russia what NATO was intended for.

This might sound forward to some of you out there, but you just have to look at the war so far. Nothing in the past has worked, so they need to come up a new plan and quick; I only say this as we have all learned our lessons from Afghanistan and Iraq. If we drag this out or let them dig in anymore than they already have, soon they will be faced with a stalemate. It will never end. Ukraine needs to create some momentum and keep it going. Simply holding ground will get them nowhere. The damage caused so far to the infrastructure will take 20 years plus to fix. Lets not forget that Ukraine is now one of the most mined places around.

Clearing up this place is a massive task on its own. And to simply think that the separatists will disarm is a joke. Ukraine could well face being stuck in an insurgency like Afghanistan. So time is something they don’t have. They need to deal with it quickly. Even though I have said they are ready for war; I do worry that some of the Ukrainian army just lacks the balls to fight. Numerous times I have seen the Ukrainian army guys drunk as hell on the front lines, on top of their equipment. They also seem to be pretty poor when you see the likes of the AZOV battalion cutting around in all their Gucci.

Ukraine Conflict Report: Dzerzhynske, an in-depth look at the front line

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On one occasion, my friend was telling me that their recon groups are just awful. They claimed that they had been out on a recon operation to lay some mines but in truth they went 600m in the night and laid one mine. This to me sounds like some of them are scared of the night. When my team is going 6km in the night and crossing multiple mine fields and getting eyes on multiple positions, it seems to me that they are lacking in some military knowledge. I think one thing that could be important to winning this war is some advisers on the front lines.

Having said all that, there is one other factor that we should look at: the government in Ukraine is one of the most corrupt in world. The fat cats at the top are making so much money on this war that they want it to continue. The loans and bail outs that Ukraine keeps getting, I can tell you they are not being used to fix the country. It’s going in the back pocket. Most people don’t make enough to survive, so any money they can take they will. That mentality is shared from the top to the bottom. If the president wanted to finish this war he would and could do it right now, but he makes too much from being the top man, why would he want to let that go? So dealing with the corruption as well as taking the fight to the separatists must be at the top of the agenda for anyone with a bit of pride.

I don’t see this war going anywhere in the short term, main reason- Minsk Agreement, second reason- corruption.