Russian Roulette: The Invasion of Ukraine

Russian Roulette: The Invasion of Ukraine (Dispatch Fourteen)

The day after Crimea's referendum, VICE News correspondent Simon Ostrovsky tried to figure out what country he's in, and what - if anything - has changed.

Russian Roulette: The Invasion of Ukraine (Dispatch Thirteen)

Some people might say that two weeks isn't enough time to prepare for referendum to separating from the country that you've been a part of for the last 70 years. But that's not what a reported 95.5 percent of Crimeans think, according to the official vote count. VICE News correspondent Simon Ostrovsky visits the polling stations in Simferopol, including predominantly Tartar areas where the pro-Russian fervor is seemingly absent.

Russian Roulette: The Invasion of Ukraine (Dispatch Twelve)

On March 13, two people were killed during clashes between pro-Russian & pro-Ukraine groups in the eastern Ukrainian town of Donetsk. Two days later, friends and family gathered for the funeral of Dmytro Cherniavsky — a former press secretary for the Ukrainian Nationalist party, Svoboda.

Russian Roulette: The Invasion of Ukraine (Dispatch Eleven)

Russian commandos stormed the Moskva Hotel in Simferopol, and nobody really knows why. It was the eve of the referendum and the hotel is where many of the international journalists covering the situation in Crimea are staying. VICE News correspondent Simon Ostrovsky tries to figure out if the troops were sent on a manhunt, or on a mission to intimidate members of the press.

Ukraine: Defending the Homeland

Russian Roulette: The Invasion of Ukraine (Dispatch Ten)

As the whole world waits to see what impact the referendum has on Crimea, VICE News correspondent Simon Ostrovsky spends time with new recruits of the Crimean Self Defense Army.

Russian Roulette: The Invasion of Ukraine (Dispatch Nine)

With Crimea's referendum quickly approaching, tension has spread across Ukraine, especially in the east.
Before Thursday's protests in Donetsk escalated into violence, VICE News correspondent Robert King interviewed pro-Russia and pro-Ukraine demonstrators about their opinions on the standoff.

Russian Roulette: The Invasion of Ukraine (Dispatch Eight)

As Russia moves 10,000 troops to the Ukrainian border and Crimea prepares for a secession referendum, tension remains high all over Ukraine, especially in the East.
On the night of Thursday, March 13 VICE News reporter Robert King captured this scene on the streets of Donetsk, where a large group of pro-Russian activists attacked a group of pro-Ukrainian demonstrators calling for unity.

Russian Roulette: The Invasion of Ukraine (Dispatch Seven)

In dispatch 7, Simon is back in the Crimean capital of Simferopol, where both pro and anti-Russia demonstrations are dividing the region. Pro-Russia protesters believe that the country's strong economy will help Crimea, while anti-Russia protesters feel that their land has been taken over by bandits.

Russian Roulette: The Invasion of Ukraine (Dispatch Six)

In dispatch six, VICE News correspondent Simon Ostrovsky travels to the Kherson region of mainland Ukraine to both the Ukrainian and Russian checkpoints. At the Ukrainian checkpoint, Simon goes inside one of their tanks, and speaks to the commander, who says that despite his Russian blood he will defend all invaders. But at the Russian checkpoint, the exchange isn't quite as cordial.

Russian Roulette: The Invasion of Ukraine (Dispatch Five)

As Russians stream into Crimea to help wrestle it away from Ukraine, an unlikely group of Serbian war veterans, who have experience fighting in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo, are turning up at the checkpoints too. VICE News reporter Simon Ostrovsky follows Russian troops as they continue their occupation of Ukrainian military bases, and learns about unidentified men in masks attacking journalists reporting on the situation in the peninsula.

Russian Roulette: The Invasion of Ukraine (Dispatch Four)

With Crimea's parliament voting to secede from Ukraine, Russia's blockade of Ukrainian military installations in the peninsula has moved seaside. The Russian Black Sea Fleet prepared a special operation: the sinking of a decommissioned ship in the middle of Donuzlav Bay in order to prevent traffic in and out of Crimea's port.

VICE News correspondent Simon Ostrovsky noticed that the unidentified men in military fatigues had suddenly disappeared from the bases — locals said that they'd gone to obstruct a mission of observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) from entering the region.

Russian Roulette: The Invasion of Ukraine (Dispatch Three)

The blockade by Russia of Ukrainian military installations in Crimea continues. VICE News correspondent Simon Ostrovsky spoke with families of personnel barricaded inside, who complained about the difficulty of getting food past the pro-Russian protesters outside. Russia's supporters explained why they want Crimea to separate from Ukraine, and Simon negotiated his way through a Russian checkpoint to interview an officer on the Slavutych, a Ukrainian battleship stuck in the harbor of Sevastopol.

Russian Roulette: The Invasion of Ukraine (Dispatch Two)

Angry crowds of Russia supporters as well as Russian military units surrounded and entered Ukraine's Naval High Command in Sevastopol blocking all exits and demanded that its officers switch allegiance to Crimea's new Kremlin-alligned government. Naval Command has so far remained mostly loyal to Kiev, but its fall would represent a significant psychological victory for Russian forces.

Russian Roulette: The Invasion of Ukraine (Dispatch One)

Russia has invaded the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine and taken over its civilian and military infrastructure. Not a shot has been fired so far, but Russia is using its superior force to intimidate Ukrainian troops in an attempt to get them to surrender.

Russia claims it wants to stabilize the situation on the peninsula, which has a large Russian population, but Ukraine's new government regards the move as an occupation of its sovereign territory.

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