On the rebel frontline in Ukraine

Russian-backed rebels from the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic man the front lines in Eastern Ukraine.

With the seven-year conflict heating up again, Ukraine says they’ve reached out to Russia for talks, but the Kremlin has not returned the call.

As Russian troops build up on the border one rebel has told Reuters their conditions for dialogue.

"Talks with Ukraine can be held from a position of strength only. That's the only way. We are strong enough. The conflict will probably be settled peacefully, but only after Ukraine get their ass beaten. That's the only way."

In Pervomaisk the signs of war cling to the city littered with debris and abandoned buildings.

Nina Salkova says she doesn't think the powers want or need a big war, because they don't want more troop casualties. The powers just want intimidation, she says to keep the people scared.

Back in the trenches the separatist explains that what’s happening goes far beyond their shifting borders.

"It feels like a big global conflict. I am not a politician, but I think when a conflict in Syria started, when tensions with Turkey and around Nordstream started, it was already clear. It was the time when we should have prepared for a big war. They will not leave us, Russia and Belarus alone because they do not like when fellow brothers from other Slavic countries lift up their heads."

As life rumbles on in Ukraine's eastern Donbass region.

Fighting here is on the rise again in this unresolved European conflict, that Kyiv says has killed 14,000 people.