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A week at war: AP resets with spot, enterprise Ukraine exclusives

Soldiers of Ukraine’s special operations unit lay anti-tank mines on a forest road potentially used by Russian troops in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, June 14, 2022.(AP Photo / Efrem Lukatsky)

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As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine grinds into its fifth month, AP teams in the war-torn country and across Europe went into overdrive to dispel the notion voiced by Western leaders that global audiences are beginning to experience “war fatigue.” An exceptional week of all-formats coverage dug out exclusives and must-read, must-watch stories, adding new layers of depth to AP’s already pacesetting journalism on Europe’s worst conflict since World War II and its global repercussions.

AP journalists in the region, recognizing the need for a shift in focus from increasingly incremental developments, pivoted swiftly to impactful big-picture views of the conflict, all while ensuring competitive coverage of major spot news. Ranging from analysis of the war’s shifting front lines to essential multiformat reporting on longer-term repercussions — the legacy of land mines, the plight of Ukrainian youth, the effect on global food security, to name just a few — and including exclusive video and photos from front-line positions, the AP provided clients and readers with an exceptional body of work over the course of seven days.

Using contacts nurtured over years, and more recently since the Feb. 24 Russian invasion, Ukraine-based photojournalist Efrem Lukatsky and video journalist Inna Varenytsia secured astounding access to Ukrainian forces firing U.S.-supplied howitzers on Russian positions in the eastern Donbas region, a vivid example of the Western-sourced heavy weapons that Ukraine’s government hopes will tip the conflict in its favor. Lukatsky also secured exclusive front-line access to Ukrainian troops laying mines intended to thwart Russian advances, while video journalist Srdjan Nedeljkovic provided extensive footage from the region.

In Kyiv, where journalist David Keyton worked tirelessly coordinating coverage, logistics and safety, the all-formats team of photographer Natacha Pisarenko, video journalist Oleksandr Stashevskyi, multiformat journalist John Leicester and freelance journalist/translator Hanna Arhirova paired compelling in-depth enterprise with competition-beating spot news coverage of an unprecedented visit to Kyiv on short notice by the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Romania, promising diplomatic, economic and military support. Leicester also quickly turned out an evocative account of the leaders’ visit to the devastated town of Irpin, where they saw the grim aftermath of Russian occupation. Further coverage outside Kyiv revealed the deadly consequences of a land now sown with mines left in the wake of fighting that raged around the capital; Ukraine has an area the size of Arizona left to de-mine.

The team also covered the funeral of an activist killed on the battlefields, telling the story of Ukraine‘s post-independence generation that is sacrificing its best years in a committed effort to preserve freedom. And the tale of a Ukrainian snail-farmer’s battle to save her precious crop from Russian troops reinforced Ukraine’s importance not only as an exporter of grains that feed the world, but also myriad other niche products savored in bars, restaurants and homes across Europe.

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