Amongst the carnage of the War in Eastern Ukraine, we’re often bombarded by images of the men heavily involved in the combat there. But naturally, as in any war, women play an equally vital role in the day to day life and on the frontline. In this article, we’re proud to cover the Slavic women at war in Eastern Ukraine through more groundbreaking photography from French War photographer: Guillaume Chauvin.
The following photos show Slavic women, young and old, trendy and aging, as they make attempts to lead a normal life in the face of war and a strict military curfew. It also shows the women leading a life alongside men on the frontline of Donbass in what is currently Europe’s only ongoing civil war.
8. En-route to Donetsk
A photo captured in Kominternovo on the Southern Front of separatist-controlled territory in Donbass. Flanked by a separatist bodyguard, this photograph captures ”European Windmills”. Despite being in Separatist territory, these windmills are not bombed by Ukrainian forces. The reason is due to their strategic value for when the territory will be back under Ukrainian control, or so those in Kyiv believe.
7. One of the few nightclubs still working in Donetsk
In a territory plagued by gruelling warfare since 2014, many of the nightclubs in Donetsk closed or were repurposed. The introduction of a military curfew at 22:00 every evening did not assist the revival of such establishments, but some persevere. This photo shows a young woman called Diana, a native of Donetsk and a singer in one of the few functioning nightclubs in the city. Here she is taking a break from singing, before she will continue until the curfew.
6. A Couple in a Hotel Room
This photo shows a young couple in a hotel room in Donetsk. The woman is named Yana and is seen flinching from the cigarette smoke of a man with the callsign “Italian”. He is a half Ukrainian, half Italian volunteer in the conflict. After joining the forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic, he subsequently rose through the ranks and is now a ”Political Officer” of his battalion.
5. Slavic Women at Donetsk University
Olya, pictured here, is a young native of Donetsk and posed for a photograph at Donetsk University where she has been studying the French language for the past few years. Despite the conflict raging all around, she has continuously stayed here regardless. Her stoic attitude reminiscent of many other Slavic women of Donbass who continue their lives despite the conflict.
4. Sushi and Karaoke in Donetsk
This photo was snapped in one of the few nightclubs still open in the Donetsk People’s Republic. Since the war in Ukraine began, constant combat combined with a 10 o’clock curfew has meant that there is little enthusiasm to attend nightclubs. However, a small number of nightclubs remain open. Here, a fashionable group of local Slavic women can be seen trying to live a normal life as they sit to enjoy some Sushi, karaoke, and Shisha, despite the ever present curfew looming closer.
3. The Elderly and Embattled Slavic Women of Kominternove
This local Babushka of Donetsk posed for a photo in the small village of Kominternove. It was captured in the Soviet-era village shop that is often subject to Ukrainian shelling of the area. As a result of this, the power to the shop has been cut. Whilst talking to this woman, Guillaume was forced to cut the interview due to the growing intensity of firefights taking place between rival military forces in the nearby area.
2. Babushka Hospitality
This image captured the meal offered to Guillaume by a local Babushka. Her home had recently been bombed, meaning she will be without power for the next few days. Amongst the horror of war and inhumanity men show to other men, her small token of hospitality seems to have much more meaning.
1. The Slavic Women in Spartak, Donetsk
In the cellar of a soviet-era housing block in Spartak, a small town on the outskirts of Donetsk, a local girl named Vika sits in darkness. The cellar is located below Vika’s grandparents home, where she has lived since the outbreak of the War in Ukraine. Her parents passed away before the war. She now remains one of the few people who remain in the town. It’s original population of 2,000 people have mostly fled the ongoing war.
To date, the war in Ukraine’s Donbass region has been going on for over 5 years. It is a largely conventional armed conflict between Western-backed Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed separatist militias. The war has killed over 13,000 people and injured and displaced many thousands more.
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Disclaimer: This article is bipartisan and does not aim to take sides in the War in Ukraine. It is published to provide an insight into the lesser-seen side of this conflict. All of the photos used in this article are the property of French war photographer Guillaume Chauvin and may not be reused or republished without express permission from himself.