A collection of 40 images by well-known Ukrainian photographer Anatoliy Stepanov shows off the dramatic scenes of Russia’s war in Donbas that rages on endlessly for over four years.
Stepanov, who works as a freelance photojournalist mainly for the Agence France-Presse (AFP) agency, has spent numerous deployments in the war zone in Donbas with Ukrainian troops.
For his new exhibition, he selected his best works made between 2014 and 2018 to show how heavy is the burden of blood, misery, and horror that soldiers bear at war.
Such episodes of fierce night-time fighting, destruction of abandoned towns and cities, and painful awaiting in trenches in cold wind and rain are what Ukrainian warriors still have to face almost each and every day, the author says as he comments his exhibition.
“But against the backdrop of this never-ending nightmare, this war seems to have almost completely slipped out of the world’s mind,” Stepanov told the Kyiv Post.
“Especially when it comes about the regular people from European countries. Many of them don’t even realize that the war in Ukraine still goes on.”
“One of the things that I strive to is to let the world know that young soldiers still die there in the trenches of Donbas.”
But nonetheless, even in the very heat of war, there has always been a place for lightful moments of fraternity and joy among fighters. Some of Stepanov’s works also show those rare reliefs in the tense fighting.
The photographer also opted to show the things that often stay behind the media reports of brutal warfare: the personalities of fighters and their young faces underneath kevlar helmets.
For this, the Warriors exhibition hosts a collection of 14 portraits of young soldiers that Stepanov happened to meet at the war front.
“All of those boys are younger than our independence (proclaimed in 1991,” Stepanov says.
“They have their own incredible life stories, and each of them was pictured right at their combat posts where they could be killed any minute. They are nineteen, maybe twenty years old, or a little older. At such an age, you want to drink the life with big gulps. You want to sing, have a good time, love, give birth to children, study, and so on.”
“Many of their age mates do so. But those soldiers boys are now there, fighting at war at their own will.”
“They are there, drawing combat duties and paying for our freedom – with their health and sometimes even with their lives.”
The photo exhibition at the Kyiv Fortress will be available until Aug. 10.
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