I joined the Peace and Order volunteer supply trip at the end of August, just as Ukraine’s armed forces were completely collapsing from a fierce Russia-backed separatist counteroffensive. Back then, Ukraine was still several weeks away from President Poroshenko being forced into a humiliating ceasefire agreement that granted the breakaway Luhansk and Donetsk Republics special autonomous status. And the foreign press was still full of rah-rah stories about the spunk and bravery of Ukraine’s volunteer battalions in their fight against Russia’s imperial aggression. But as I made my way from Kharkov in north-eastern Ukraine down to the Donetsk region not far from the fighting, I got a close look at the tense relationship between volunteer battalions and regular army forces, and the extremely fragile and fractured state of the Ukraine’s fighting force.
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