Photos of Everyday People Amid the Ruins of Donetsk, Ukraine


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Photos of Everyday People Amid the Ruins of Donetsk, Ukraine

Larry Towell of Magnum went inside the besieged city in November and December.
February 3, 2015, 6:23pm

All photos by Larry Towell/MAGNUM Photos

East Ukraine has heated up again lately: Peace talks have faltered, and a pro-Russia separatist leader has vowed to put together 100,000 troops to fight the Kiev government. Meanwhile, civilians are increasingly at risk of being squeezed between the sides—a VICE News look at conditions in the "so-called Donetsk and Luhansk 'People's Republics'" found nothing good to report.


"Crossing from government-controlled to rebel-held areas in Ukraine's war-torn east is a process that can now take days," wrote Harriet Salem last week. "With a fresh round of fighting flaring all along the frontier, the roads in and out are often sealed for hours at a time; earlier this month a public bus was hit by Grad rocket fire at a checkpoint in Volnovakha, killing 12 people onboard."

Dealing with such grim circumstances has sadly become routine for many residents of Donetsk, where rebels have been clashing with government troops for months. Magnum photographer Larry Towell, a Canadian who has covered conflict from Nicaragua to Israel, was there in November and December, documenting how everyday people in the area are dealing with war and the suffering and destruction it brings.

A resident of Donetsk's Petrovskiy neighborhood walks past the smoldering remains of a house that was shelled the night before by the Ukrainian army.

A welder repairs freight trains damaged by the separatist shelling of a train yard.

A dog surveys damage from Ukrainian rockets fired on the separatist-controlled Petrovsky neighborhood.

Residents of a village near Luhansk collect water from a passing water truck. The water tower was destroyed by a separatist attack during a summer effort to drive out the Ukrainian army.

Graves of recently killed pro-Russian separatists at Saur-Mogila. The strategic area was the scene of fighting between German and Russian forces in World War II and later became home to a memorial for Russian war dead. That memorial was destroyed, however, during a battle in the summer of 2014.

Graves of recently killed pro-Russian separatists at Saur-Mogila

Zenoida Lanouva, a 75-year-old whose pension has been cut off by the Kiev government, cries on a staircase at Hospital 21 in the Petrovsky neighborhood.

A Pro-Russian separatist maintains his post behind a cement barricade in an area being shelled by the Ukrainian army.

Tatyana Oborotov in her home, which was destroyed by Ukrainian shelling the night before

Ruins at Saur-Mogila

A tank destroyed during the shelling of civilian neighborhood by Russian-backed separatists

Ruins at Saur-Mogila

A highway bridge destroyed by a Ukrainian airstrike

The bed of Gregory Palienko, a 65-year-old former coal miner, lies empty in a house destroyed by Ukrainian army shelling.

A bride and groom leave a Russian Orthodox church after their wedding ceremony.

Pensioners stand in line all day hoping to receive their government checks even though the central government cut all bank transfers to the region earlier in the month. The pensioners became suspicious of the photographer, who they thought could be a spy for the Ukrainians. That morning, while standing in line, one pensioner died of a heart attack in the snow.

A young pro-Russian Cossack fighter greets an 86-year-old Cossack woman whose home, at the front line, was recently destroyed by Ukrainian army shelling.

Cossack separatists patrol the front lines with a German shepherd.

A child plays with a sled in the Petrovsky neighborhood.

A memorial to a protester killed during the February uprising against the government of Viktor Yanukovych.