Eyes On Ukraine
Etched onto the faces of demonstrators across the world, steely gazes and worried brows express all too evident agony at the unfolding crisis of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
As the photos I captured during recent protests in London’s Trafalgar Square show, the real fury and worry of what is happening in Eastern Europe grows.
Women in particular stand out, adorning themselves with national colours and traditional flower headdresses. Not least because all Ukrainian men, between the ages of 18 and 60, are banned from leaving the country, to remain and fight the Russian invaders.
Invaders who exacerbate and intensify the horrors of war by carpet bombing towns and cities, and ignoring humanitarian corridor ceasefire agreements, reports of which escalate by the day.
As the rest of the world holds off joining the armed struggle, the people of Ukraine, led by their charismatic President Volodymyr Zelensky, are juggling how to cope and react.
In just two weeks the unfolding crisis has seen over two million (and rising) refugees desperately fleeing westwards into neighbouring European countries. The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports of Russian attacks on Ukrainian hospitals, ambulance and other healthcare facilities, and the UN hears how the world ‘narrowly averted a nuclear catastrophe’ as Russian forces attacked the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
Street demonstrations across the globe have expressed peoples’ concerns as international economic sanctions, flight bans, foreign business withdrawals, and humanitarian aid rolls out, to a backdrop of political and diplomatic wranglings.
All the while, the desperate plight of the local citizens, as well as that of totally unprepared conscripted young Russian soldiers, is never more acutely felt than by Ukrainian and peace-loving Russian people themselves.
Walking amidst the desperately sombre, yet animated crowds of protesters I was struck by the atmosphere of resolute determination. Firm stares, surrounded by blue and yellow with proud protesting placards for all to see.
For example, look at the angst written on the Russian lady’s face (#IAmRussianAndIAmSorry), in addition to the multitude of all-ages home-made peace sign posters.