As Russia’s war on Ukraine drags on, civilians are having to live day to day with the atrocities of war. During my several dispatches covering this senseless war, I saw the resilience of the people, who are being forced to eke out an existance under siege.
BIKE RIDE IN A WAR ZONEAs we entered the Sloviansk in the Donbas, most of the people we saw on the street were riding their bikes. It was strange at first, as shelling could be heard in the distance, but what I noticed was, the people were middle-aged or older. Despite the war continuing, those determined few are still trying to go by their everyday lives as normal. In pre-war times the city had a population of over 100,000 but around 85,000 have since evacuated.
COOKING ON FRONT LINE, POKROVSK, DONETSKWe made our way into a countryside village where a Ukrainian military unit had positioned. The area had been hit hard the day before, as artillery shells lay on the ground. The Ukrainian soldiers were on edge. But despite the tense atmosphere, inside a small village building was a makeshift canteen. A soldier was cooking soup for his comrades. A moment of normality.
FUNERAL FOR A HERO, LVIVMilitary funerals have been frequent in the western city of Lviv since the war. This was the funeral of two fallen Ukrainian soldiers. Military personnel led the funeral procession followed by priests from the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Saint Peter and Paul Garrison Church. A soldier holds up the photo of Oleg Vorobyov, 45, who was a Senior LieutenantHe died in battle in May 2022.
GOING HOME, BOHDANIVKA, KYIV REGIONDuring the first weeks of the war, Russians occupied Bohdanivka, about an hour from downtown Kyiv. The Kremlin forces had planted tanks and military vehicles in the streets and gardens, destroying much in sight. After the Russians left, bus loads of residents returned. Here, a woman walks past a damaged public school as she returns home for the first time.
LIFE GOES ON, MAKARIVValentina and her husband spent 40 days inside their home at the beginning of the war in February as Russian soldiers occupied Makariv, a town in Ukraine. Bullets came through the windows and remnants of shelling rained in the back yard. But despite the ordeal, she insisted her husband keep fit by using their weight bench, shown here.
NOTHING LEFT, BOHDANIVKAAfter invading Russian soldiers forcefully moved into his home in Bohdanivka, Sergei and his family had no choice but to co-exist with the occupiers for weeks on end. But one night, a fierce battle took place as Ukrainian soldiers attempted to recapture the town. Tanks were on fire and neighbouring homes had been destroyed. The conflict prompted Sergei’s family to evacuate. A month later when the occupiers had left, Sergei returned to see a proportion of his house burnt out. He said he has no money to fix anything, but will not leave again.
SUNSHINE AND ORANGES, MARIVKA, MYKOLAIVAs we approached the village, which had previously been occupied by Russia, these Ukrainian youths were our unofficial tour guides. They introduced us to locals, showed us previously occupied houses and smiled happily in front of the camera.
VETERAN OF WAR, MYKOLAIVA Ukrainian soldier who called himself “Petro” told me he’d been fighting against Russian forces since 2015, a year after Russia annexed Crimea. As he showed us around a military position, including trenches, he told us that today’s war was different and had no defining lines. He insisted, “Everywhere is the frontline”.