The Ukrainian Donbass, where Putin sowed the seeds of war

On a clear spring morning eight years ago, Oleksandr Khainus walked out of his house to work at the city factory when he spotted new graffiti scrawled on his fence. “Glory to Russia,” vandals had written with angry black spray paint. “Putin,” read another message.

Khainus was puzzled. It is true that Chasiv Yar, the Rust Belt-like city where he spent his whole life in a region called the Donbass, had long contained many conflicting opinions about his identity. Geographically, the Donbass was part of Ukraine, no doubt, but it was so close to Russia and so historically linked to it that many argued that their true homeland was really to the east.

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