Tuesday on FRONTLINE: “Battle Zones: Ukraine & Syria”

May 22, 2014

Over the past three months, as unrest in Ukraine has provoked one of the biggest confrontations between Russia and the United States since the Cold War, FRONTLINE’s James Jones has been on the ground documenting the crisis up-close.

In The Battle for Ukraine, premiering this Tuesday, May 27, Jones delivers a chilling look at both sides of the ongoing fight — revealing firsthand the deep-seated hatreds between right-wing Ukrainian nationalists with historic ties to the Nazis, and violent pro-Russian separatists vying for control of the country.

“Being a patriot is in my blood – it is genetic. I have to defend my motherland and its great future,” 17-year-old Oleg Demchuk, a computer science student-turned-member of Ukraine’s ultra-nationalist group Right Sector, tells FRONTLINE.

Demchuk is one of many of Ukrainians drawn to the fervent rhetoric of Right Sector’s leader, Dmytro Yarosh — who is enemy number one on Russian television.

“Putin has repeatedly said that there is no such country as Ukraine, and he does everything to terminate our statehood completely,” Yarosh says. “Every empire is afraid of guerrilla war. That’s our way to victory.”

As the fighting raged, Jones also filmed with Right Sector’s biggest opponent, a militant, pro-Russia group called Stronghold, as well as separatist fighters in the city of Donetsk.

“We are not the ones who started this civil war,” separatist commander Sergei Zdrilyuk tells FRONTLINE. “We are ready to fight ‘til the end. Personally, I am going to risk it all. I am not a politician; I am a soldier.”

Drawing on personal and dramatic footage, Jones — whose previous FRONTLINE documentary, Secret State of North Korea, won wide acclaim — paints an up-to-the minute portrait of a conflict with no end in sight.

The Battle for Ukraine will lead FRONTLINE’s May 27 Battle Zones hour.

In part two of Battle Zones, a special developing report out of Syria: FRONTLINE continues its groundbreaking reporting on the war with Arming the Rebels.

Reporter Muhammad Ali crosses into the war zone, and finds Syrian rebel fighters who say they’re being secretly armed and trained by the United States, out of a previously unreported location.

Stay tuned for full details on this special report.

Battle Zones: Ukraine & Syria premieres Tuesday, May 27 on FRONTLINE. Check your local listings here, and watch a preview below.

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