The old make wars to satisfy their craving for power; the young die in them or are broken in mind and body. Yet wars keep on being manufactured and another war may be just days away if the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, calculates that the risk is outweighed by domestic advantage.
Like all populists, he knows how to play on the emotions of the people and last July, at one of his “Direct Line” conferences with the Russian public he spoke stirringly of how Russia and Ukraine were “one people, occupying the same historical and spiritual space”.
Now he is converting his words into action and at time of writing, there are an estimated 100,000 Russian troops gathered at the border with Ukraine. This threatens to be an international war, so our media are paying attention, but an internal conflict has been smouldering in the Donbas, the south and eastern regions of Ukraine, ever since Russia fomented and supported a civil war there in 2014.
The UN estimates that over 13,000 people have died as a consequence, and many more have had their lives changed for ever. Here, in brief, is the story of five Ukrainians, but it should go without saying that on the Russian side, the young have also died and have been broken in mind and body.
These images are from the series Wounds by the US photographer of Ukrainian descent, Joseph Sywenkyj, a prize winner at Photo Kyiv 2021, of which there is a fully illustrated catalogue.
Viacheslav Buinovsky lost his right hand and leg in September 2014 fighting in the Aidar Battalion on the border with Russia
Roman Kubyshkin lost much of the right side of his brain on 22 January 2015 in a shell attack at Donetsk International Airport. He held on for six years and died on 2 June 2021
Taras Mokliak was mobilised in May 2014 and fought as a grenade-launcher operator. Shortly afterwards, in the village of Starobudne, he received severe abdominal and pelvic injuries
Vadym Dovhoruk was a Special Forces soldier who was shelled on the second day of the Minsk II armistice. He was wounded and suffered severe frostbite after spending three days in the forest. He is now a triple amputee. A surgeon is preparing to do a skin graft