Thumb sm
Ukraine: The Wait
Kiev, Ukraine
By Benas Gerdziunas
06 Dec 2015

Completed over the course of three trips to Ukraine in 2014/15, this multimedia piece explores the heavy silence of war - away from the war porn of frontline fighting and Western-Russain power plays. With Ukraine slipping back into the corrupt era of Yanukovich, the anxious wait for reforms, true independence and peace continues.

Frame 0004
Ukraine: The Wait 19
Mariupol, Ukraine
By Benas Gerdziunas
17 Oct 2015

Shells land 20 kilometers away. Four months later, in January 2016, a separatist rocket attack a few blocks away kills 30 civilians.

Frame 0004
Ukraine: The Wait 01
Mariupol, Ukraine
By Benas Gerdziunas
17 Oct 2015

Separatists’ diversionary raid on a railway bridge leaves passenger trains stranded in Mariupol, Donetsk region. After many months of idleness, the bridge was finally repaired.

Frame 0004
Ukraine: The Wait 07
Popasne, Luhansk Oblast
By Benas Gerdziunas
14 Oct 2015

[Radio chatter] Separatist positions report ‘111’ – ‘All clear’. Other call signs are ‘110’ – we’re being attacked; and ‘112’ – We’re attacking. It is believed, that the previously stationed Chechens and Don Cossacks have been replaced with regular Russian military combatants.

Frame 0004
Ukraine: The Wait 12
Kiev, Ukraine
By Benas Gerdziunas
14 Oct 2015

Ukrainian street musicians perform a song by a
Russian rock band, ‘Splin’

I want to fall asleep and never wake up
go away into the sea and not come back
or come back, but together

With you so much more interesting
with you so many interesting things around
and not even tight (suffocating)

Without the squares, railway stations, stops
without all these civilisations

One more sip - and we’re on fire
on one, two, three

Burn with fire, your third Rome
catch my rhythm
and dance, dance, dance, dance

Frame 0004
Ukraine: The Wait 15
Mayorsk, Donetsk Oblast
By Benas Gerdziunas
14 Oct 2015

The patrol passes along the village streets, dotted by drunk civilians and military personnel – a sign not so uncommon even before the war. Somewhere in the vicinity, a high ranking Ukrainian officer was assaulted and kidnapped with his armed escort a week before.

Thumb sm
Ukraine: The Wait 13
Zolote, Luhansk Oblast
By Benas Gerdziunas
30 Aug 2015

Sergei sits during night watch on the Permovaisk frontline, prepping his gun at the slightest noise in the distance; remains of an exploded 80mm mortar shell is a few meters away. In the morning, his face bathes in the warmth of a late summer’s sunrise.

“What a beautiful day, we all woke up alive.”

Sergei died on September 23rd during a skirmish, one day before he was due to return home.

Thumb sm
Ukraine: The Wait 09
Zolote, Luhansk Oblast
By Benas Gerdziunas
29 Aug 2015

“I came here to replace the guys who have been here for months without rotation, so someone can go home - not because I’m some big Ukrainian patriot,” says Vladislav, stationed in Zolote.

Even before the war, the old mining village was poor, with crumbling buildings dotting the streets. Now, with even less people remaining, pensioners gather for a daily market - made up of 5 stalls, overshadowed by a modest Lenin statue. Three blocks away, Ukrainian soldiers occupy the vacant houses, which are shelled on a nightly basis.

Thumb sm
Ukraine: The Wait 14
Popasne, Luhansk Oblast
By Benas Gerdziunas
29 Aug 2015

“One year ago, the commander put tanks in the first line, as if it was the Second World War; now you have accurate weapons – the whole crew died,” says one of the commanders.

The decrepit reminder of the war ruins the beautiful vista over the steppes of Donbas. Yet, the war is still on going, the steppes are the buffer zone, and the current trenches still scar the landscape, two meters behind the tank.

Thumb sm
Ukraine: The Wait 02
Kyiv
By Benas Gerdziunas
27 Aug 2015

Away from the headlines of Western-Russian power plays and war porn of frontline fighting; away from boys with a cause, imperial ambitions and the spectacle of war. What’s left is the chilling wait and anxiety. The sluggish nightmare immerses anyone unlucky enough to be caught up close – families stuck in the buffer zones, blaming elusive fascists,
as their men fight for the elusive Russians. The nightly grind of staring into the darkness of a frozen conflict, confined to the trench and radio transmitting enemy reports of your own movements; the sweeping apathy back home.

While Ukraine is slipping back into the corrupt era of Yanukovich, Eastern Ukraine is trapped in a disaster, which shows no signs of letting go. The anxious wait for reforms, true independence and peace continues.

Thumb sm
Ukraine: The Wait 08
Popasne, Luhansk Oblast
By Benas Gerdziunas
27 Aug 2015

The night passes peacefully, with sporadic pot-shots fired from the opposing lines; the Ukrainians do not respond. Without appropriate night-vision gear, the watch is spent chewing through bags of seeds – siemki, and a constant flow of tea and, if available, coffee.

Thumb sm
Ukraine: The Wait 11
Popasne, Luhansk Oblast
By Benas Gerdziunas
27 Aug 2015

Weapons sit idly, as the soldiers rest before the nightly grind.

Thumb sm
Ukraine: The Wait 06
Popasne, Luhansk Oblast
By Benas Gerdziunas
26 Aug 2015

After months without rotation, the prospects of an entrenched warfare remain bleak. Stationary frontline attritions grind is more reminiscent of World War One, than a 21st century battlefield. Faced with increasing apathy from their own society in Ukraine, many soldiers turn to bottle, or worst - chair and a rope – even if the problem has not yet reached epidemic proportions.

Frame 0004
Swedish Schoolteacher Joins Fight aga...
Al-Hassakah
By Bedir
28 May 2015

Jasper, a 24 year-old schoolteacher from Sweden describes his reasons for leaving his home and joining the fight against ISIS alongside the YPG in Syrian Kurdistan.

Going by his adoptive Kurdish name Agit, the young man has joined a battalion the YPG with two American fighters and one English fighter, all experienced military men, who give him special training to go head to head with ISIS in combat.

"I'm not afraid of them," he says. "They will pay for their crimes. I will fight to the last drop."

Thumb sm
Ukraine: The Wait 03
Paviopil, Donetsk Oblast
By Benas Gerdziunas
19 Mar 2015

Pavlopil and its 200 remaining inhabitants are stuck between Ukrainian and separatists frontlines. Devoid of jobs, schools or local amenities, the villagers attempt to co-exist. Days are spent farming and sitting in the front yards; it takes too long, and costs too much to get into neighbouring city of Mariupol.

“We share what we have – yes, you could say it’s real communism,” says one of those remaining.

Some families, however, did not have even the smallest luxury of a roof over their heads – their homes were destroyed in subsequent artillery duels.

Thumb sm
Ukraine: The Wait 18
Mariupol, Ukraine
By Benas Gerdziunas
17 Mar 2015

The separatists’ diversionary raid on a railway bridge leaves passenger trains stranded in Mariupol. After many months of idleness, the bridge was finally repaired.

Thumb sm
Ukraine: The Wait 05
Mariupol, Ukraine
By Benas Gerdziunas
16 Mar 2015

The strategic southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol continues to rely on its heavy-industries, even as shells randomly hit its eastern outskirts, or the near-constant fighting in Shyrokino - a village 30 kilometers east of Mariupol. Even as analysts and military intelligence predict a weekly separatist assault, it hasn’t happened in a year; the steel mills roll on.

Thumb sm
Ukraine: The Wait 10
Mariupol, Ukraine
By Benas Gerdziunas
14 Mar 2015

‘Psych’, a young volunteer fighter with one of Ukraine’s makeshift battalions ‘St. Mary’. After being reformed from the Shakhtorsk Battalion, the newly established battalion’s leaders are adopting a Christian Crusader façade.

“I’m an atheist,” he says, trying to conceal a pre-adolescent face under khaki balaclava.

Thumb sm
Ukraine: The Wait 20
Slovyansk, Donetsk Oblast
By Benas Gerdziunas
10 Mar 2015

The psychiatric hospital in Semyonovka, Donetsk Region, saw heavy fighting at the start of the War in Donbass. Both sides accuse the other for its destruction and using civilians trapped in the crossfire as cover. According to Human Rights Watch, patients and staff were evacuated on May 26, 2014 “to other facilities in Zhdanovka, Gorlovka, and Donetsk.”

All of these territories are now under control of the Pro-Russian separatists. A man from Semyonovka- who preferred to remain anonymous, said as he scourged through the remains of his home: “Last time I heard, they were taken to Russia after the evacuation.”

Thumb sm
Ukraine: The Wait 04
Kramatorsk, Donetsk Oblast
By Benas Gerdziunas
09 Mar 2015

Two of Tanya’s seven children huddle by a television in Kramatorsk refugee centre. Having escaped war in the neighbouring city of Gorlovka - currently under separatist control, the family breathes easily. Boredom prevails, as the children – along with the teenagers, move from one screen to another, trying to entertain themselves.

“My husband will join us here soon,” says the mother Tanya, “everything is perfect.” Meanwhile, her eldest daughter stares at the flickering screen in front.

Frame 0004
Mohammad, a Syrian Teenager Who "Chos...
Morek, Hama
By TTM Contributor 9
30 Jan 2015

Morek, Hama, Syria

January 30, 2015

Fourteen-year-old Mohammad Khodr al-Hajji left school more than a year ago to fight against the forces of President Bashar al-Assad. Mohammad joined the opposition battalion formed by his father. He receives regular military training and has been positioned on the frontline outside the town of Morek near Hama, in an area called al-Sayyad. Opposition fighters took this area from the Syrian government’s forces fourth months ago. In a year or two, Mohammad hopes to actively engage in battles.

Mohammad’s case is not unique. Many children have been drawn into the Syrian conflict as it nears its fourth year. According to a Human Rights Watch report, non-state militias of different affiliations have recruited dozens of teenagers and given them perilous military tasks.

Khodr, Mohammad's father, says that even though his son is young, he might not be safer at home because he could die in an airstrike.

SHOTLIST AND TRANSCRIPT

Various of fighters resting inside a cave
Close-up of Mohammad al-Hajji’s face
Close-up of Mohammad al-Hajji’s hand and Kalashnikov rifle
Wide of Mohammad al-Hajji walking ,carrying a Kalashnikov rifle

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Boy) Mohammad Khodr al-Hajji, Syrian Child Fighter
00:11 – 00:24

“I am Mohammad, the son of Khodr. I was at school and I was watching TV. I saw destruction and children. I went for the quest of freedom, against Assad’s infidel regime.” Wide of Mohammad walking with other fighters.
Wide of Mohammad with other fighters in a trench shooting.

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Boy) Mohammad Khodr al-Hajji, Syrian Child Fighter

00:33 – 00:48
“I have been here for a short while, but my father taught me how to use weapons and to shoot, thanks be to God. I was with my friends and I saw that they all participated in Jihad, and I wanted to be like them.
I have not been in school for many years. I was in the eighth grade. I stopped going to school.
There was an air raid. A warplane hit the school and we stopped going there.
When I first grabbed the rifle I felt something very great.
There is no work. People have stopped working. We want to work but there is nothing to do.
I kept participating in the revolution. I will keep resisting until I die.
I am still young and I am learning. In a year or two, I will start participating in battles, God willing.”

Close-up of Mohammad cleaning rifle.
Wide of Mohammad in trench with other fighters.
Various of Khodr al-Hajji, Mohammad’s father , talking on walkie-talkie Medium of Khodr al-Hajji inside cave with other fighters

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Khodr al-Hajji, Mohammad’s Father, Head of opposition armed group

01:33 – 01:59
"He [Mohammad] saw that his brother and I were involved [in the revolution]. He began to insist to accompany me, so I took him with me. His brother and I trained him to use a rifle. I showed him how to disassemble and reassemble the rifle. Then he wanted to shoot, so I showed how.
We shall carry on, God willing. Someone younger might also participate [in the fighting]. If this continues for longer, God willing, the younger people will participate.”

Wide of Mohammad opening a box of dates with a knife

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Khodr al-Hajji, Mohammad’s Father, Head of opposition armed group

02:08 – 02:28
“I do not care about education because we are losing so much blood. If he is martyred, it will be for God’s sake. He would be lucky. God giveth, God taketh. My son Mohammad or his brothers might be at home and suffer a strike by warplanes, which are dropping explosive barrels. If his days are over, he will die at home.”

Various of Mohammad and other fighters praying behind Khodr al-Hajji.
Various of Mohammad and other fighters walking

Frame 0004
Sisters in Arms Against Islamic State
Iraq
By Andrew Nunn
17 Dec 2014

December 18, 2014
Location : Iraq

In Northern Iraq, the Kurdish Peshmerga continues the battle against the Islamic State, who seized huge parts of Syria and Iraq since their rise in June of this year. Backed by the United States and 40 other nations, the fighters recaptured large strips of land from over the last weeks.
In Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan a battalion of women sharpen their skills and prepare to take the fight to engage the Islamic State. While they have not seen combat yet, they stand prepared to defend their families, friends, and their homeland.

Thumb sm
Inside the azov battalion 38
Kiev
By Arturas Morozovas
18 Oct 2014

New soldiers of volunteer 'Azov' battalion take an oath of allegiance to the people of Ukraine before going to Eastern Ukraine.

Thumb sm
Inside the azov battalion 39
Kiev
By Arturas Morozovas
18 Oct 2014

New soldiers of volunteer 'Azov' battalion take an oath of allegiance to the people of Ukraine before going to Eastern Ukraine.

Thumb sm
Inside the azov battalion 40
Kiev
By Arturas Morozovas
18 Oct 2014

Leader of 'Azov' battalion commander Andriy Biletsky together with new members takes an oath of allegiance to the people of Ukraine before going to Eastern Ukraine.

Thumb sm
Inside the azov battalion 41
Kiev
By Arturas Morozovas
18 Oct 2014

Leader of 'Azov' battalion commander Andriy Biletsky together with new members takes an oath of allegiance to the people of Ukraine before going to Eastern Ukraine.

Thumb sm
Inside the azov battalion 42
Kiev
By Arturas Morozovas
18 Oct 2014

Leader of 'Azov' battalion commander Andriy Biletsky together with new members takes an oath of allegiance to the people of Ukraine before going to Eastern Ukraine.

Thumb sm
Inside the azov battalion 43
Kiev
By Arturas Morozovas
18 Oct 2014

Leader of 'Azov' battalion commander Andriy Biletsky together with new members takes an oath of allegiance to the people of Ukraine before going to Eastern Ukraine.

Thumb sm
Inside the azov battalion 44
Kiev
By Arturas Morozovas
18 Oct 2014

Leader of 'Azov' battalion commander Andriy Biletsky together with new members takes an oath of allegiance to the people of Ukraine before going to Eastern Ukraine.

Thumb sm
Inside the azov battalion 45
Kiev
By Arturas Morozovas
18 Oct 2014

Leader of 'Azov' battalion commander Andriy Biletsky together with new members takes an oath of allegiance to the people of Ukraine before going to Eastern Ukraine.

Thumb sm
Inside the azov battalion 46
Kiev
By Arturas Morozovas
18 Oct 2014

A crying girlfriend sees of a combatant of the Azov battalion who departs to an ATO zone.

Thumb sm
Inside the azov battalion 47
Kiev
By Arturas Morozovas
18 Oct 2014

A crying girlfriend sees of a combatant of the Azov battalion who departs to an ATO zone.

Thumb sm
Inside the azov battalion 52
Charkov
By Arturas Morozovas
13 Oct 2014

Ukrainian nationalists and servicemen of the Azov battalion demonstrate during the march marking the 72nd anniversary of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) in Charkov, Ukraine.

Thumb sm
Inside the azov battalion 51
Charkov
By Arturas Morozovas
13 Oct 2014

Ukrainian nationalists and servicemen of the Azov battalion demonstrate during the march marking the 72nd anniversary of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) in Charkov, Ukraine.

Thumb sm
Inside the azov battalion 50
Charkov
By Arturas Morozovas
13 Oct 2014

Ukrainian nationalists and servicemen of the Azov battalion demonstrate during the march marking the 72nd anniversary of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) in Charkov, Ukraine.

Thumb sm
Inside the azov battalion 49
Charkov
By Arturas Morozovas
13 Oct 2014

Ukrainian nationalists and servicemen of the Azov battalion demonstrate during the march marking the 72nd anniversary of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) in Charkov, Ukraine.

Thumb sm
Inside the azov battalion 48
Charkov
By Arturas Morozovas
13 Oct 2014

Ukrainian nationalists and servicemen of the Azov battalion demonstrate during the march marking the 72nd anniversary of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) in Charkov, Ukraine.

Thumb sm
Inside the azov battalion 01
Urzuf, Ukraine
By Arturas Morozovas
04 Oct 2014

An "Azov" fighter eats lunch in the training base in Urzuf.