The War in Ukraine

Photographs by Amnon Gutman

April 1st - 30 October 2023

The war in Ukraine actually began in 2014. This first part of this war was in the East of the country and was a consequence of the Maiden Uprising in Kyiv in late 2013 when large protests were sparked by the Ukrainian government’s decision to choose closer ties with Russia over the European Union. 

As the Maiden Uprising in Kyiv gathered momentum in early 2014, an interim government was appointed that sought to cut links with Russia, seeking closer ties with the European Union, with devastating consequences for the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in the East.

With a large ethnic Russian population, the East of Ukraine had been a previously peaceful region with Ukrainian and Russian communities sharing geographical and cultural spaces in harmony. But in the ensuing debate on Ukraine’s future, politicians on both sides of the argument used history, fear of foreign influence and political sovereignty to further their own political goals. Unconcerned with the consequences for the civilian population,these political leaders shattered the unity of a previously peaceful and culturally compatible population inevitably leading to violence.

Shelling was the preferred military tactic, leaving more than 14,000 people dead and 1.5 million internally displaced. For the people in Eastern Ukraine, the evolving horrors of war have traumatically changed perceptions of a familiar space. A shared, productive region was divided into two opposing factions, entrenched and bloodied in thisfirst part of the Ukraine War whichlasted until February 2022. 

With the all-out invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces on February 24, 2022, the second phase of the Ukrainian crisis tragically arrived. 

No longer hiding behind the pretence of veiled language like “peace keeping mission” for the newly “recognised” regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, Russian troops were ordered to mount an invasion with its sights on the central government in Kyiv. This escalation was Putin’s misconceived and failed attemptto quickly replace Ukraine’s democratically chosen governmentturning into a war waged against the civilian population. 

With all the right reasons to defend their homes and freedom, Ukrainians are fighting against an army whose reasons to fight their neighbours are diminishing rapidly. 

Having had to come to terms with this violently sudden shift in their perception of what their Russian neighbours are prepared to do, Ukrainians, no longer reeling from the shock, are mobilizing their fury as well as their fear to fight for their lives.