There are three kinds of people in Ukraine: the living, the dead and the ones who are looking at them.

Dimitar Dilkoff has been photographing Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict in 2014 with the Russian annexation of Crimea and fighting in the Donbas between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists backed by Moscow.

In 2014, he was based in Sofia working for AFP when he went to Ukraine, the goal being to reach Kyiv, push on to the Donbas and cross the front line into pro-Russian territory.


Since then he has been covering the conflict-torn region, exploring the complex web of front lines, deserted villages and gutted houses, with children sheltering in basements. For years, his daily diet has been air raid sirens, long hours on the road, and modest meals shared with locals.

In Donetsk, Izium, Zaporizhzhia and Makiivka, he has documented the everyday life of civilians on both sides of the front lines as they endure the same relentless barrages of shelling from the Russian and Ukrainian armed forces. On platforms at railway stations and elsewhere, he has taken an incalculable number of pictures of farewells, exodus and loss. What do a Russian trench and a Ukrainian trench have in common? Everything. What is the difference between a basement in Mykolaiv and a bomb shelter in Donetsk? There is no difference.

Dimitar Dilkoff’s photos show the same humanity: poignant embraces, haunted gazes and tortured bodies. And the same crosses, many of them, dotting the landscape.

Karim Talbi, Europe Editor-in-Chief

Dimitar Dilkoff

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