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The Struggle to Find Ukraine's Missing Soldiers

Hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers have been captured or gone missing over the course of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Dozens remain missing and their families face a desperate struggle to find them.

During the course of the war in eastern Ukraine, hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers have been either captured as POWs or gone missing during the fighting.

During the battle of Ilovaisk in August 2014, Ukrainian soldiers became encircled by Russian regular soldiers and separatist fighters. After intense negotiations the Ukrainians eventually managed to secure safe passage to leave the town. However, that never happened. As the Ukrainians fled the town in their vehicles they were ambushed and slaughtered. It's thought up to a thousand soldiers were killed and hundreds more were captured.


Many of these POWs were released over the course of the following week, however some were summarily executed and others still remain missing.

Families of the missing soldiers have had to endure a torturous and bureaucratic process to find their sons, passed from one ministry to another, with some families having to travel to rebel territory themselves to search for them. VICE News spoke with a British journalist, Lily Hyde, who has been documenting the efforts of families struggling to find their sons and with one mother who continues to wait for her son to return home, 18 months after he went missing.

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Read "When War Becomes Routine: A Week with Ukraine's Weary-Eyed Soldiers"