In November 2013, protests erupted in Kiev over the pro-Russian government’s refusal to sign a trade deal with the European Union. The protests led to the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych and the establishment of a new, pro-Western government, which promptly announced that the country would continue its move toward integration into the European Union. And so it became evident that there was a deep divide in Ukraine between two camps: one that wanted to increase integration with Europe and another that preferred to maintain strong ties with Russia.
The second camp is represented strongest in eastern Ukraine, which has been simmering in conflict since 2014, when the Russian-backed Luhansk People’s Republic and Donetsk People’s Republic declared independence. Both republics are just part of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, which are part of the wider region of Donbass. Separatism is ubiquitous here because of the region’s cultural and economic ties to Russia