In lieu of a thousand words, I spent the last year taking thousands of pictures of Ukraine and its people under fire. I took them in the field alongside war crimes investigators and military intelligence units, while I was teaching law at Taras Shevchenko University.

In the beginning, I took them when Americans were still virtually united in their support for Ukraine against Putin’s naked aggression, before opposition became a MAGA article of faith.

I began to take them in greater earnest, as if Ukraine’s existence depended on it, when Fox News started saturating the airwaves with disinformation and elected public officials like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Tommy Tuberville grew emboldened to parrot Kremlin-sponsored narratives.

My first impulse was to photograph physical destruction, but grew hardened to the sight of ruins and rubble, and began searching for less obvious images, for which the broken bridges—such as the one Americans all saw on TV, demolished to stop the Russian advance at Irpin--are a metaphor.

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Broken Bridge at Irpin the Monument to the Refugees captured on the nightly news fleeing from the Russian invasion.

That includes the story I heard over and over in the country formerly intermingled with Russia as part of the Soviet Union. I am talking, for example, about Oleksandra in Kyiv, who can no longer speak to her sister Vlada in Moscow because Vlada agrees with Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. She believes the Russian state’s TV propaganda line that Ukraine is ruled by Nazis who threaten Russia as a NATO proxy rather than her own sister.It is a story familiar to Americans who can no longer hold a family conversation at the dinner table without arguing whether Trump is the country’s savior or Putin’s puppet. I did, however, try to photograph the yearning to bridge these gaps, as Ukrainians carrying on with weddings and high school graduation processions, trying to lead normal lives in wartime.

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Russia’s willingness to sabotage mutually beneficial international relations has mystified western observers for generations, as Winston Churchill wrote: “Russia is a mystery wrapped in an enigma.”

Dasha’s High School Graduation at the Philharmonie, Khmelnystky.

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Imagine such a thing when the largest totalitarian regime on earth comes to take all your territory, your language and your culture to boot, kidnap your children and change your form of government so that you, too, can be a citizen of a country where journalists are thrown out of windows and political opponents imprisoned, poisoned with Polonium, or gunned down on the street - on the orders of a president who acts with impunity.

Then imagine the country carrying the torch for the free world so paralyzed by false dichotomies and off-stage demagoguery, that Congress cannot pass an aid package to prevent the destruction of Ukraine by an unending Russian onslaught.

Yet Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene cites Kremlin sources to call the defense of Ukraine corrupt. Senator Tommy Tuberville says he sees no likelihood of further Russian aggression once Ukraine is subjugated.

Tetiana’s World Russian destruction of the State Tax University at Irpin

To combat this Putin-parroting influence operation, I took my pictures to help bring the truth about Ukraine home to America. The Broken Bridges in Ukraine exhibition opened at the University of Alabama Gallery in Tuscaloosa and the University of Alabama-Huntsville Salmon Library.

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The exhibition continued its journey to Selma, Alabama, the landmark beacon of the bridge crossing that forced America to live up to the true meaning of its creed, and where the bravery of the Ukrainian people stood on display in the presence of giants like my friend, John Lewis.

The photographs of Ukraine’s devastation and struggle for freedom are now on display in Troy, Alabama, just down the road from the factory where Javelin anti-tank guided missiles are manufactured - waiting for Congress to pass an appropriation to help Ukraine defend itself.

I hope the images from Ukraine will help shock Americans back to reality, and resoundingly remind us of what we believe in. With any luck, we will re-incorporate the same drive for self-determination the Ukrainians have shown into our own nation-defining love of freedom.

I went there with an idea that the US can save Ukraine. After a year of witnessing the brave example of its people united in defiance of the world’s greatest tyranny, in contrast with my country’s own divided indecisiveness, I’m starting to think it is Ukraine that can save America.

The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.

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Comments (3)

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John
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Very power pictures. For those who skim over this article here there were also a couple very powerful social observations made by this American war crimes investigative lawyer. 



"Oleksandra in Kyiv, who can no longer speak to her sister Vlada in Moscow because Vlada agrees with Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. She believes the Russian state’s TV propaganda line that Ukraine is ruled by Nazis who threaten Russia as a NATO proxy rather than her own sister. It is a story familiar to Americans who can no longer hold a family conversation at the dinner table without arguing whether Trump is the country’s savior or Putin’s puppet"



"I hope the images from Ukraine will help shock Americans back to reality, and resoundingly remind us of what we believe in. With any luck, we will re-incorporate the same drive for self-determination the Ukrainians have shown into our own nation-defining love of freedom."

"I went there with an idea that the US can save Ukraine. After a year of witnessing the brave example of its people united in defiance of the world’s greatest tyranny, in contrast with my country’s own divided indecisiveness, I’m starting to think it is Ukraine that can save America."

"

its people United”......Amen!

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Ken Hallett
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It's tragic that two men, the Speaker (majority leader) of the US House of Representatives, or the Speaker of the Senate can deny the majority of Americans the right to be heard, a power not even the President enjoys. Presently House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Trump sycophant, stands against allowing an up or down vote of support for Ukraine.

I don't believe the people of the supposed 'beacon of democracy', America, are so conflicted. I believe an overwhelming majority of the American people and Congress strongly support and grieve for Ukraine. Sadly, American democracy is facing its own existential crisis that may not be resolved until November.

Regretfully, I feel unmotivated to spend more time writing as all my past posts in these sections have been deleted. The Kyiv Post has seen fit, for unknown reasons, to silence my 'voice'. I have been, and will remain a staunch supporter of Ukraine's fight for independence.

John
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@Ken Hallett, Hi ken you posts were awesome and I'm sure appreciated by the Ukrainians even if only allowed to display for a few days at times. I am suffering the same fate, with my posts (~122 pages worth at this point) also being indiscriminately deleted by Kyivpost or some nefarious actor with control over their systems.

I have written to Kyivposts online and editorial support folks a few times about this and get no response. My second last attempt cc'd the Ukrainian consulates in my country (Canada) and contacts I have at United24...still no response. My last attempt was send this past weekend directly to Ukraine's SBU (with Kyivpost cc'd) to raise it as a concern given the importance of controlling russian propaganda. They have a lot of important stuff to deal with so I'm not expecting to hear back...still I tried.

In the meantime it does not rest well that so much obvious russian troll propanda remains on Kyivpost. So I now cut and past my comment to a document. Each comment prefaced by the relevant Kyivpost article's URL. As needed I click on the URL and repast my response. Its a pain given the number of posts I make, but it actually only takes me 10-20 seconds each.

Thanks for all you do. I rank you content as being more meaningful than my own.

Ken Hallett
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@John, thank you. Likewise you write thoughtful posts. I have many of my past posts saved, but I feel Kyiv Post has control here. I am reading less and writing little. I'm seeing what happens with this instance, and I may spend a limited time writing something in the future to see what happens. I'm not going to spend my time writing (or reading) where it's not appreciated. It is at least heartening to know it's not 'just me'.

If this space is to be populated by profane ad-hominem attacks, name-calling, and ignorant argument the worth is questionable. It is free, but the presumption is the hope of positive influence of different viewpoints and clarification of potential misperception. Being 'deleted' is being disrespected, especially where there are no apparent standards and no reasons given.

John
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@Ken Hallett, Hi Ken. I wanted to update you that I heard back from Kyivpost and after reviewing my past posts they are reinstating all of them. Apparently they are purging the the MRGA oriented troll comments (a good thing) and we got caught up in the software they use of this purpose.

If you email them and request they review you past post and reinstate them I have no doubt that in your case they will all be reinstated. You can get their contact emails at the bottom of their website. I blitzed all 8 of those at one point or another in my frustration, but if it helps the person there that eventually responded was their Commercial Manager monitoring the [email protected] & [email protected] inboxes. I have their name but I 'm not sure this is the best place to post it.

As much as having Ukraine supportive comments deleted was frustrating I took solace in knowing it never approached the injustices faced daily by Ukrainians at russia's.

Thanks for what you do. I know every effort to help the Ukrainians is appreciated and done en mass very powerful.

Cross
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@John,
@John, I'm skeptical of the 'troll hunting software'. Good IT people don't work that way, and my impression of Kyiv Post is they have good IT people.

I've just spent a couple hours painstakingly writing a bit at 1465 characters and 240 words on a post, using a word processing program to edit and count characters, then copying and pasting to the little 'editing box' provided here.

It gives me a warning that "The comment cannot be published. Spam suspicion."

This is as much test to see if a quickly typed missive will post as it is a presumption the Kyiv Post can or should be paying attention.

When they make things difficult, its pretty fucking easy to walk away.

Nope. I'll try a copy & paste via a different computer with a different IP and different email addy and see if that works.

Cross
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@Cross, @john, that worked. I guess I'm not welcome here. Ken

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John
This comment contains spoilers. Click here if you want to read.

Very power pictures. For those who skim over this article here there were also a couple very powerful social observations made by this American war crimes investigative lawyer.

"Oleksandra in Kyiv, who can no longer speak to her sister Vlada in Moscow because Vlada agrees with Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. She believes the Russian state’s TV propaganda line that Ukraine is ruled by Nazis who threaten Russia as a NATO proxy rather than her own sister. It is a story familiar to Americans who can no longer hold a family conversation at the dinner table without arguing whether Trump is the country’s savior or Putin’s puppet"

"I hope the images from Ukraine will help shock Americans back to reality, and resoundingly remind us of what we believe in. With any luck, we will re-incorporate the same drive for self-determination the Ukrainians have shown into our own nation-defining love of freedom."

"I went there with an idea that the US can save Ukraine. After a year of witnessing the brave example of its people united in defiance of the world’s greatest tyranny, in contrast with my country’s own divided indecisiveness, I’m starting to think it is Ukraine that can save America."

"its people United"......Amen!

https://www.kyivpost.com/assets/images/author.png