× Serhiy Zhadan

On 24 February, Russia launched a massive offensive against Ukraine. The full-scale war started bringing radical changes to millions of Ukrainian lives. Someone took weapons to defend their country, someone started volunteering to help civilians and armed forces, someone was forced to flee, someone was captured, someone found themselves on the occupied territory. The worst thing is that many are no longer alive. This war has changed the face of the country. Radically. Destroyed residential areas, burnt military equipment, broken roads, blown up bridges — the face of the war is marked with extensive pain, sorrow and fear. There is also hope though. Hope for justice and hope for victory.
War is frightening. Shelling is frightening, losing loved ones is frightening. However, it is important for the world to understand one simple thing — Ukrainians are not afraid. Ukrainians are fighting back, Ukrainians are defending their cities, Ukrainians are defending their future. Moreover, I do believe that today Ukrainians are defending the future of Europe — peaceful, democratic Europe, where nobody violates international norms and laws, or commits war crimes.
Ukrainians are opposing the army of looters, rapists and war criminals. It is very important that Europeans stand with us in this arduous and bloody confrontation. We need your support. We need your understanding and solidarity. We are trying to protect ourselves, our parents and children. Seeing the world sharing this burden and this challenge with us actually gives us strength and confidence.
Today everyone can see horrifying photographs of Russia’s military aggression. They can be shocking, frightening or disgusting. The war is really scary and ugly. However, everyone should see these images. Even if they are horrifying. To see in order to understand, what evil, what cruelty and cynicism we are facing today and what darkness we are opposing.
Ukraine will undoubtedly win. We will defend our freedom and future. However, it is important to record this chronicle of struggle and resistance, this bloody imprint of time, this fight of people of light against the forces of darkness. It is important to record all this to give no chance to evil in the future.

Serhiy Zhadan is a Ukrainian poet, author and political activist who resides in Kharkiv. English translations of Zhadan’s work include the books Depeche Mode, Voroshilovgrad, and Mesopotamia.

Valeria Shevchenko

The war in Ukraine started in 2014, when Russia occupied areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in eastern Ukraine, and annexed Crimea. Then, on the early morning of 24 February, 2022, Russia launched a full-scale offensive on the entire territory of Ukraine.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as of March 2015, almost 1.2 million people were forced to leave their homes and move to other Ukrainian regions, and more than 700,000 fled abroad.
The official figures indicate that the number of internally displaced people (IDP) in the full-scale war of 2022 already exceeds 11 million, i.e. more than a quarter of the country's population. 5.2 million of them are seeking refuge in other countries.
As of 21 April 2022, 1929 houses were ruined in Kharkiv alone, which has been heavily shelled since the first days of the full-scale offensive. The UN confirmed that around 5,000 civilians have been killed or injured in Ukraine since 24 February. At the same time, local authorities in Mariupol, Ukraine's worst-hit and besieged city, report 20,000 dead.
217 children have been killed, while more than 391 injured, according to official estimates by the Prosecutor General's Office. Gang rapes and brutal killings of civilians have been reported in the liberated territories of Kyiv oblast (region). The Commissioner for Human Rights, Lyudmila Denysova, says around 400 cases of sexual assaults by Russian soldiers have been reported. There are children among victims.
Unfortunately, all these figures are not final and are growing daily. If we don’t stop this evil in Ukraine, it will spread further.
Text and fact checking by Valeria Shevchenko, Director of Communications, Odesa Photo Days Festival.