www.newyorker.com /magazine/portfolio/05/09/the-costs-of-war

The Costs of the Russian Onslaught in Ukraine

4-5 minutes 4/29/2022

The invasion of Ukraine has been described as the first social-media war, and a key aspect of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s leadership has been his ability to rally his country, and much of the world, via Facebook, Telegram, TikTok, and Twitter. At the same time, war photographers in Bucha, Irpin, and beyond are working—in the tradition of Mathew Brady at Antietam or Robert Capa on Omaha Beach—to capture the grisly realities of what Vladimir Putin insists that his people call a “special military operation.”

In early April, Nina was found dead in the kitchen of her home in Bucha, outside Kyiv, where she had lived with her sister Lyudmyla. Hundreds of such bodies have been discovered in the district.

A man escapes the flames of a fire as Russia attacks Kharkiv.
In late March, flames and smoke rose after a Russian attack in Kharkiv. Ukraine’s second-largest city continued to elude Russian control more than two months into the invasion.
A hospital worker in Kharkiv attends to Valery, who is twenty-seven-years-old. Valery is holding onto the bed frame has a hospital worker tends to his wounds. He lost his legs after the Russian military shelled a street where he was standing with a friend.
A hospital worker in Kharkiv attended to twenty-seven-year-old Valery, who lost both legs after the Russian military shelled a street where he was standing with a friend.
A streak of dried blood stained the the hospital hallway in Makariv.
A streak of dried blood stained the length of a hospital hallway in Makariv, west of Kyiv. Amid the Russian onslaught, the building was used as a morgue.
Civilians help each other pass the river with remnants of a bridge that once spanned the Irpin River. The Ukraine army blew up the bridge in order to slow the Russians advance on the capitol.
During shelling in Irpin, civilians fled to the remnants of a bridge that once spanned the Irpin River. Ukraine’s Army had blown up the structure in order to slow Russia’s advance on the capital.

James Nachtwey, now seventy-four, is among those keeping their eyes trained on the realities. Influenced by the photography that emerged from the civil-rights movement and Vietnam, he began his career at the Boston bureau of Time and then took a job at the Albuquerque Journal. When he read about the hunger strike in Northern Ireland, in 1981, he headed for Belfast. Four decades of covering conflict ensued, bringing him to El Salvador, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Balkans, Rwanda, Chechnya, and many other places. He has been injured in the field, lost colleagues and friends; his hair was once parted by a bullet. Nachtwey calls himself an “antiwar photographer.”

Andrey Zherebtsov stepped out from his low-ceilinged, dirt-floored basement shelter as Russia continued its assault on residential areas of Kharkiv.
As Russia continued its assault on residential areas of Kharkiv, in late April, Andrey Zherebtsov stepped out from his low-ceilinged, dirt-floored basement shelter.
Galyna, who is a mother, is mourning the death of her son, Oleksandr, a volunteer with the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces.
Galyna mourned at the coffin of her son Oleksandr, a volunteer with the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces, in mid-April. He was thirty-two when he was shot dead in Bucha.
An open bodybag showing the face of a dead civilian in Bucha, where investigators worked painstakingly to identify the dead.
The staggering civilian body count in Bucha, where investigators worked painstakingly to identify the dead, highlighted the brutality of the Russian military as it tried and failed to take Kyiv.
A women returns to her home to retrieve her belongings from a bombed-out apartment building. Many locals have returned to their homes after Russian forces withdrew from Borodyanka.
In April, after Russian forces withdrew from Borodyanka, west of Kyiv, a woman retrieved belongings from a bombed-out apartment building there. Many locals returned to their homes after the occupation to sift through the wreckage.

After an exhausting day in Ukraine recently, he sent this text before getting some sleep: “The barbarity and the senselessness of the Russian onslaught are hard to believe even as I witness them with my own eyes. Bombing and shelling civilian residences, firing tank rounds point-blank into homes and hospitals, murdering noncombatants in militarily occupied areas are all tactics being employed by the Russians in a war that was inflicted on a nonthreatening, neighboring sovereign state. . . . ‘Ordinary’ people are displaying extraordinary courage and determination, if not downright stubbornness, in the face of tremendous destruction and loss of life.” His refusal to avert his gaze from the true costs of conflict belongs to a larger mission: to keep the world from doing so.

—David Remnick

A corpse lying near a pile of debris in Bucha—one of several corpses that were reported to have been brought by Russians on a tank, dumped, and set on fire.
A corpse lying near a pile of debris in Bucha—one of several corpses that were reported to have been brought by Russians on a tank, dumped, and set on fire.
A busload of evacuees from Bucha. More than five million people have fled across Ukraine’s borders, and more than seven million remain displaced within the country.
A busload of evacuees from Bucha. More than five million people have fled across Ukraine’s borders, and more than seven million remain displaced within the country.
The ruins of residential towers in Borodyanka, near a damaged monument honoring Taras Shevchenko, the nineteenth-century Ukrainian poet.
The ruins of residential towers in Borodyanka, near a damaged monument honoring Taras Shevchenko, the nineteenth-century Ukrainian poet.
The bodies of two Russian soldiers who died in battle lay on an open field near the village of Mall Rohan.
The bodies of two Russian soldiers who died in battle near the village of Mala Rohan, east of Kharkiv. Ukrainian officials estimate that Russia has lost some twenty thousand troops.