Along the small country roads that lead to Horlivka, bridges are destroyed and tank tracks are clearly visible. The separatist-held city is located some 40 kilometers north of Russian-occupied Donetsk, and only a few kilometers from the demarcation line with Ukrainian-held territory. It had a pre-war population of 272,000, today it has 180,000, according to the United Nations.
February’s Minsk II agreement to withdraw all heavy artillery has clearly not been implemented in this city, though separatist soldiers guarding several checkpoints have a different point of view.
“There are no tanks here anymore,” a separatist fighter said, introducing himself only as Petrovich. He guards the second checkpoint leading to Horlivka, still a place of intense fighting. “We only use small arms and light artillery if the enemy shoots at us. We have never violated the cease-fire.”