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Kyiv, the city of courage. The photo that impressed the world.

Kyiv, the city of courage. The photo that impressed the world.

The first days of the full-scale invasion in 2022, a state of horror but also the resistance that showed Ukraine’s resilience, is exactly what the world saw about us through the front pages of the media. It was often not seen even by Ukrainians themselves — by those who became the subjects of some of the world’s most famous photographs while saving their own lives, defending their homes, and becoming victims and superheroes at once. At the end of February 2022, editors from around the world faced the need to cover the events in Ukraine. Access to hotspots was limited. Everything journalists and photographers managed to capture in the early days was spread by most of the world’s publications. It formed a clear image of the events in Ukraine at the time.

Front pages of Feb. 24, 2022, in many countries, were disappointing, predicting the fall of Kyiv, the occupation of a large part of Ukraine, and the establishment of the Putin regime. However, on Feb. 26, 2022, the narratives in world media began to change — namely, the media began to recognise that Ukraine is a country of resilient people capable of withstanding one of the world’s largest armies. In the English-language media segment, Ukraine was associated with the word “resistance.”  Personal stories of people and stories of the heroic struggle of the military during the defense appeared on the covers. For the headlines, the British media chose vivid epithets to reflect the heroism of Ukrainians: lionhearted, fearless, and courageous. The main narrative was “we are not afraid,” reinforced by quotes from the President of Ukraine: “We will fight as long as it takes to liberate our territories.”

One of the key battles during the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022 was the Battle of Kyiv. Russian forces attacked Kyiv from the northwestern direction, from the Chornobyl exclusion zone and Belarus. Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, battles with Russian subversive groups have been taking place mainly on both banks of the Dnipro River. In Kyiv itself, fighting was only with sabotage and reconnaissance groups. Russian troops suffered a crushing defeat and the invading forces were forced to retreat. 

One of the most powerful photos during the first days was dedicated to the defense of Kyiv: military personnel defending the city on the Havansky Bridge of the Dnipro’s right rank, which thousands of cars crossed every day.

“It was the second day of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and Russian troops were closing in on Kyiv. I received information that in one of the districts of Kyiv, there was a battle with the Russian military or saboteurs, and we went there to check. The streets of Kyiv were empty, there was no exact information about what was happening, and everyone was waiting for the capital to be stormed. When we were returning to the office, I saw how young servicemen of the Ukrainian National Guard had taken up positions on the bridge in front of the center of Kyiv and I managed to take a few pictures through the window of the car. It was very strange to see young servicemen, almost children, with weapons lying on the pavement, fearing the unknown and seeing determination in their faces. I was struck by this view,” Reuters photographer Glib Garanich commented for  

The world has seen many images of Ukrainian soldiers and volunteers who stood up to defend their homeland, both in 2014 and in the first days of the full-scale invasion in 2022. The image of Ukrainian women who chose to take up arms and defend their loved ones was covered separately and from different angles. You can find the most impressive photos/covers in our Front pages section on the website.

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