Ukraine, sometimes called "the Ukraine", is a country in Eastern Europe. Excluding Crimea, Ukraine has a population of about 42.5 million, making it the 32nd most populous country in the world. Its capital and largest city is Kiev. Over many centuries, its territories were contested, ruled and divided by a variety of powers, including Lithuania, Poland, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Russia. The country gained its independence from the USSR in 1991.
A move by the unpopular government to lessen its ties with the EU led to a revolution in 2014 which ousted the president but led to Russia annexing the strategically-located territory of the Crimea soon afterwards. Following international protests and a contested referendum of the citizens of the Crimea which Russia claimed showed they had massive support for their actions, pro-Russian armed militias sprang up in parts of the country, causing violence and civil unrest.
It was against this background that Gary Windass accepted three work assignments to the country in 2017 from his ex-army colleague Joe Haslam who now ran his own security firm. Gary knew there were dangers involved and tried to keep this fact from his friends and family. Nevertheless, he got into vicious fights on several occasions, a man was killed on the second trip and Gary himself was thought to have been killed on the third trip when a car containing his bags was blown up by a planted bomb. The high rates of danger money pay for the work did however temporarily sort out Gary's financial problems.