Ukraine’s Pravda has released a shocking GIF depicting the advance of Russian-backed separatists across eastern Ukraine.
The GIF is compiled from five months of battlefield maps released by Ukraine’s military.
During the five-month span of the conflict the GIF depicts — the amount of time since the Minsk ceasefire deal — the Russian-backed separatists have made huge gains against the Ukrainian military and captured an additional 193 square miles of territory. These gains have been particularly startling in the south east of Ukraine towards the city of Mariupol, as well as around Donetsk.
The separatist push towards Mariupol first started in the beginning of Sept. 2014. Mariupol is a strategically vital Black Sea port city. By seizing the town, Russia would have a land corridor connecting the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed in March, to the Russian mainland. Mariupol is still in Ukrainian hands, but separatist forces shelled the city at the end of January.
The battlefield gains by the separatists throughout the east of the country can be attributed to the constant inflow of Russian weaponry. In Nov. 2014, Russiamoved a columnof tanks and artillery into eastern Ukraine drastically changing the battlefield calculus.
In addition to tanks and artillery, Russia has provided the separatists with arms ranging from grenade launchers and mortars to anti-tank weapons and anti-aircraft guns.
As a result, Russian-backed rebels have huge military advantages over Ukraine. Crucially, the rebels receive logistics and armaments from the Russian military while also being able to take refuge in Russia during a Ukrainian assault.
The safe haven that Russia provides allows the separatists to conduct cross-border strikes on Ukraine, while Kiev’s army is incapable of attacking over the border into Russia without triggering an even larger war with Moscow.
Here’s a look at the military situation in eastern Ukraine as of Jan. 26:
And here’s a look at the situation as it stood on the day Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the Minsk peace deal:
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.