It has been almost two weeks since Ukraine and Russia agreed on a ceasefire aimed at ending the fighting in the Donbas Region. Since then, hundreds have been killed in combat and thousands of civilians continue to suffer. This photo essay by Jonathan Alpeyrie documents the trauma in the Donbas.
The ceasefire has not succeeded in bringing the fighting between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists to an end. But both sides have announced a withdrawal of heavy weapons from the frontline, raising hopes that the truce can finally go into effect. Even so, Petro Poroshenko, the Ukrainian president, has cautioned that a ceasefire will not eliminate the military threat to Ukrainian sovereignty posed by Russia.
The focal point of hostilities in recent weeks was the rail junction town of Debaltseve. Inside the town during the height of the fighting, civilians endured dire conditions. Facing constant shelling, over 80 percent of the town’s 25,000 inhabitants fled the area. The fighting caused widespread destruction to buildings and other property; the bodies of civilians and combatants lay where they fell in the streets, frozen solid in the cold weather. Each day a few volunteers, working under extreme risk, drove along the only road into the town to deliver food and medications to the few remaining locals trapped in the center.
Jonathan Alpeyrie is a freelance photojournalist based in New York.