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Generation of fighters: An intimate look at Ukraine's fearless youth (Photos)

by Irynka Hromotska June 21, 2024 6:56 PM 5 min read
Cadets of the Ivan Bohun Kyiv Military Lyceum hang out in the barracks during a long break between classes in Kyiv, Ukraine, in 2024. After morning schooling, they undergo sports training and military disciplines. (Brett Lloyd/Vogue Ukraine)
by Irynka Hromotska June 21, 2024 6:56 PM 5 min read
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In the midst of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, the resilience of the Ukrainian people shines in the photographer Brett Lloyd's photo essay, "Ukraine Today." Commissioned by Vogue Ukraine, this series captures the vibrancy of life persisting amid war, offering an intimate look into the lives of Ukrainians.

“'Ukraine Today' is aimed to elevate and amplify our personal and collective stories, and, I hope, to promote our culture, as well as to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of Ukraine's rich tapestry of identities and experiences,” said Julia Kostetska, Vogue Ukraine publisher.

Lloyd's initial trip in November 2023 to Donbas and the Kharkiv region, and then - to Kyiv, revealed a spectrum of stories from soldiers and paramedics to civilians and students, highlighting the paradoxical nature of hope amidst struggle.

“His [Lloyd’s] work features a diverse range of individuals, from soldiers to students to artists, all of whom embody the nation's steadfast resolve to maintain their identity and cultural expression despite the challenges Ukrainians face,​” said Kostetska.

The photo essay marks a visual shift for Vogue Ukraine, focusing on the universally personal stories of real people. “We hope it will become part of our visual storytelling and will go down in history as an important documentation of the wartime country,” Kostetska said.

According to Kostetska, through this photo essay, Vogue Ukraine endeavors to portray Ukraine as a dynamic nation deserving of recognition, support, and solidarity on the global stage.

The "Ukraine Today" photo exhibition is open at the Taras Shevchenko Museum in Kyiv, running through June 30.

Oksana “Xena” Rubaniak at the Center for Physical Education and Sports of the Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute in Kyiv, Ukraine, 2024. Rubaniak, a 21-year-old poet and social activist, joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine in 2022 and is now a platoon commander of one of the Army's brigades. Together with her brothers and sisters-in-arms, Xena fought near Bakhmut, Vuhledar, and Marinka. In May of this year, she was promoted to the rank of junior lieutenant.

(Brett Lloyd/Vogue Ukraine)

Vladyslav "Woody" and Roman "Sova" from the 78th Separate Airborne Assault Regiment, senior lieutenant of the National Guard of Ukraine "Kicha," and volunteer Artem in the Backyard Camp training center, Kyiv, Ukraine, 2024. (Brett Lloyd/Vogue Ukraine)

Hanna Vasyk in Kyiv, Ukraine, 2023. A military medic and junior sergeant in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Vasyk became the first person taking part in Brett Lloyd's photo essay. On that day, she returned alone from the war zone in the east to Kyiv.

(Brett Lloyd/Vogue Ukraine)

A scene from "The Witch of Konotop," directed by Ivan Uryvsky, at the Ivan Franko National Academic Drama Theater in Kyiv, Ukraine, in February 2024. (Brett Lloyd/Vogue)

Model Daria Makarova and her boyfriend, soldier Vasyl "Grizzly" Hrabovenskyi, in Kyiv, Ukraine, 2024. Vasyl, who grew up in Mykolaiv and in Lviv Oblast, was a designer and enjoyed sports and drawing during peacetime. He volunteered to join the Armed Forces at the onset of the full-scale invasion, following in the footsteps of his older brother and father. Tragically, at the age of 28, Hrabovenskyi was killed in action on May 13 on the outskirts of the village of Lyptsi in Kharkiv Oblast. The photo was taken in Kyiv three months before his death.

(Brett Lloyd/Vogue Ukraine)


Cadets of the Ivan Bohun Kyiv Military Lyceum in Kyiv, Ukraine, 2024. This series of photographs shows teenagers aged 16-17, students of the most prestigious specialized educational institution in the country. For the author, these young people are the embodiment of Ukraine's future, the nation's salt of the earth: They study, communicate, and joke like ordinary schoolchildren, but they have consciously chosen a military career and are preparing to defend their homeland. (Brett Lloyd/Vogue Ukraine)
Kyrylo Meshkovskyi, volunteer, at the Backyard Camp training center in Kyiv, Ukraine, 2024. In civilian life, the 33-year-old is an entrepreneur who has volunteered to join the army in the early days of the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine. A big fan of tea, Kyrylo even brought special utensils for a traditional Japanese tea ceremony when he went to the front-line city of Bakhmut. (Brett Lloyd/Vogue Ukraine)
Vladyslav "Woody," a soldier of the 78th Separate Airborne Assault Regiment in Kyiv, Ukraine, 2024. In his civilian life, Vladyslav, now a senior soldier, sniper, and stormtrooper, was a barber. At the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion, he volunteered to join the army. This spring, he was wounded by an enemy drone in Donetsk Oblast. (Brett Lloyd/Vogue Ukraine)
Model Karina Maziar and cadets of the Ivan Bohun Military Lyceum in Kyiv on the cover shot from the spring issue of Vogue Ukraine in Kyiv, Ukraine, 2024. (Brett Lloyd/Vogue Ukraine)

‘You stay because you’re needed.’ Foreigners volunteering in wartime Ukraine (Photos)
Since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion, volunteers from around the world have come to Ukraine to support the country’s struggle. They have not only joined the foreign battalions to fight on the front line but have also helped various volunteer initiatives: from weaving camouflage nets f…

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