A photojournalist’s perspective on the war in Ukraine

(Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times)
Share

Ukrainians know it’s coming. Their resolve is well-documented.

Fighting has grown fierce.

Powerful explosions were heard in Kramatorsk, in Ukraine’s east, Kherson in the south and in the northeastern city of Kharkiv, in advance of an expected major Russian onslaught in the industrial eastern heartland known as the Donbas.

Carolyn Cole, who has covered conflicts in Afghanistan, Liberia and Gaza, to name a few, turns her lens to the struggles Ukrainians face amid the invasion by Russian forces.

April 30, 2022 - Lviv, Ukraine

A Ukrainian soldier and a violinist share a corner in downtown Lviv, Ukraine Saturday.
(Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times)
A woman points a BB gun at a picture of Putin as a game in downtown Lviv Saturday.
(Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times)
Advertisement

Sandbags line the barrier around a police station in downtown Lviv as a horse carriage goes by with passengers.
(Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times)

April 27, 2022 – Kharkiv

Lubov Perisichanskaya, left, and her daughter, Ekaterina, are living with their cat, Tichon, in the subway along with hundreds of other people in Kharkiv.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Volunteers from Holy Trinity church in Kharkiv, cook in areas that are heavily damaged, but residents still reside.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
People line up at a post office in Kharkiv, that is now a food distribution center. Life goes on in Kharkiv despite Russian shelling in the northeast side of town.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
In the Saltivske area of Kharkiv, Ukraine, a woman grazes her goats, as life goes on despite Russian shelling.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

April 26, 2022 – Kharkiv, Ukraine

Fatima Kozachinko and her son Nicholi, age 7, receive prayers from the women at Ark Church. “I have no place to go. We lost our house.”
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Advertisement

People line up to receive food assistance at Ark Church in Kharkiv, Ukraine, where many people had been waiting for hours to receive food.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

April 25, 2022 – Zaporizhzhya, Ukraine

From left, Katerina Gubochkkna, her daughter, Oksana Strishko, and her son Dima Strishko, age 5, arrive from Russian occupied territory to Zaporizhzhia on April 25. Families escaping Mariupol and other Russian occupied areas had endured days of bombing.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Anna Strishko, hugs her father, Vitalin Strishko, after reuniting in Zaporizhzhia. The Strishko family arrived from the Russian occupied town of Vasilyevak, where they had been separated since the war began.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

April 24, 2022 - Bucha, Ukraine

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

In Dnipro, hundreds of worshipers arrived at the end of curfew at dawn to celebrate Orthodox Christian Easter at Troitska Church illuminated with hundreds of candles inside. They circled the church carrying Easter baskets, filled with Easter cakes, fruit, and other goodies, along with a lighted candle.

In Dnipro, hundreds of worshipers gathered at dawn, at the end of curfew, to celebrate Orthodox Christian Easter at Troitska Church on April 24, 2022. They brought Easter baskets filled with baked goods, fruit and candles.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

“We tried to go earlier,” said Juliet, “but they wouldn’t let us leave. But because of Easter, there’s no fighting, and it’s quiet. We told them we have a sick child who needs an operation and they let us go.”

— Juliet Korotvkova, 37

April 23, 2022 – Borodyanka, Ukraine

Veronkia Haidai, left, is consoled during the funeral for her relatives that died in a Russian missile attack on their apartment building in Borodyanka.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Lera Korohodina, left and her boyfriend Sasha Ribchuk, drop small potatoes into the neatly created rows of rich dirt in Borodyanka. “These potatoes saved our life. If we hadn’t had the potatoes, we would have starved,” said Inna Korohodina. “We have always grown potatoes and we need to plant more potatoes just in case there is another attack.”
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Advertisement

April 22, 2022 - Bucha, Ukraine

Anatolii Oliinyk, 38, buried his father in the garden when he returned home to Bucha with his family, including his 4-year-old daughter, Yana.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Anatolii Oliinyk returned to his humble home in Bucha three days ago. He found his father facedown on the floor of his bedroom. Russian forces had broken the door open and killed him, leaving his barefoot body beside the bed where he slept. On the wall hung photographs of his children and his own portrait as a young man. Anatoly, age 38, a mechanic, evacuated with his wife and three children, but his father was too old to travel and didn’t want to go.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

A simple, wooden cross marks the grave where Anatolii buried his father, also named Anatolii Oliinyk, 90, in the garden behind the house. He said he will take his father to the morgue to have his execution documented by investigators before giving him a proper burial next week.

In Bucha, 4-year-old Yana Oliinyk stands beside the grave of her grandfather in the garden.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
(Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times)

April 22, 2022 — Ostrovskii family

Three members of the Ostrovskii family — Viktorya, 51; Anatoli, 75; and Vyacheslav, 32 — were buried together in a single grave Friday at the Bucha cemetery.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Three members of the Ostrovskii family — Viktorya, 51; Anatoli, 75; and Vyacheslav, 32 — were buried together in a single grave at the Bucah cemetery Friday. The three were shot and killed by Russians on March 7, as they tried to flee Bucha in their car. A family friend was the only person there to see the bodies laid to rest.

April 21, 2022 - Bucha, Ukraine

Natalia buries her husband, who was killed when a missile struck near their home in Bucha.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Advertisement

At the cemetery in Bucha, Yryna Chebotok holds the cross that will mark the grave of her grandfather, Volodymyr Rubaylo. She said he was shot in the head by Russian soldiers when he left his house to buy cigarettes.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

I met Lyudmila, who said Russians killed her husband and held her captive for 20 days.

At the cemetery in Irpin, Lyudmila Goncharenko says goodbye to her husband, Nickolay Goncharenko, who was killed when Russians opened fire on their car as they tried to escape.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

April 20, 2022 - Borodianka, Ukraine

A dead son. A corpse in a nightgown. Ukraine investigates Russian atrocities.

The bodies of six people in a mass grave and three others a few yards away were uncovered in the town of Borodianka. Investigators with the Ukraine police documented evidence of war crimes before removing the bodies.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

April 19, 2022 - Bucha, Ukraine

Zena Laboonska leans over the body of her son Sergey Sydorchuk, one of about a dozen on gurneys outside the morgue.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
The morgue in Bucha is overflowing. A dozen bodies are outside on gurneys.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

I met this mother who found her son lying with his hands folded beneath his cheek, as if sleeping. The scene across areas northwest of Bucha, Ukraine.

Nadya Savran found her son Igor, who was shot twice in the chest by Russians. He is buried beside his best friend in the town cemetery.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Items left behind

Advertisement

In addition to a path of destruction and death, here are a few things Russian soldiers left behind in Andrivka, Ukraine. Clockwise from top left; military patches; military fatigues left at a checkpoint; a hand stitched Russian Army cap; and MRE’s (meals-ready-to-eat).
(Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times)

April 18, 2022 - Kramatorsk, Ukraine

A woman returns to her apartment at Park Oviy with a headlamp to what is left after bombing and fire heavily damage the building in Irpine, Ukraine.
(Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times)
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Alexy Dyakov’s windows were broken by a Russian missile attack across the street in Kramatorsk.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

April 17, 2022 - Severodonetsk, Ukraine

At a front-line hospital in Severndenesk, Ukraine, a patient is brought in with shrapnel wounds to the head. There are only a few doctors remaining in the town, and most of their energy is spent on wounded Ukrainian soldiers.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
At a front-line military hospital in Luhanstkyy, Ukraine, stretchers line the wall at the entrance to the emergency room.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

April 17, 2022 - Slavyansk, Ukraine

Father Valeri Lebed blesses those attending Palm Sunday service at the Serafim Sarovsky Orthodox Church on the outskirts of Slavyansk, Ukraine. About 100 parishioners attended; many said they came to calm their nerves about the approaching Russian forces.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Palm Sunday services at Serafim Sarovsky Orthodox Church.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

April 15, 2022 – Severodonetsk, Ukraine

Maria Tokhar exercises the horses daily, even during outgoing shelling, at the Allur Equestrian Club on the edge of Slavyansk.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Advertisement

Smoke rises above 400 new graves in the town of Severodonetsk, Ukraine. Most residents have evacuated.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
A man visits his son in an apartment building in Severodonetsk. People live in underground shelters, he said.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Ukrainian forces guard the city center of Severodonetsk as shelling is heard.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

April 14, 2022 – Slovyansk, Ukraine

A food giveaway organized by the mayor of Slovyansk drew a long line of residents as a new offensive by Russian forces appears imminent.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
A man walks with dogs near the train station in Slovyansk, which has been closed since a Russian missile attack killed 57 people in a train station in nearby Kramatorsk.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Lyudmilla Botkovskaya leaves Slovyansk with her dog, Kashatanka, in a duffle bag.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

April 12, 2022 – Odesa, Ukraine

Many of those left behind in Ukraine are those less fortunate, like this family in Odesa.

Svitlana Doroshenko kisses her baby, Maxim, 1, as her father, Ihor Doroshenko, watches the news in their small apartment in Odesa. They can’t afford to leave the country.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Children being evacuated from Ukraine by their families receive a meal at the train station in Odesa before the next leg of their journey.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Advertisement

An elderly woman walks by sandbags set up for protection in Odesa. Many of those left behind in the war are elderly people.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)