For residents of the unrecognized "Donetsk People's Republic," living there means enduring a constant threat of military action, economic hardship, separation from Ukrainian relatives and an uncertain future. Despite the difficulties, most residents are reluctant to leave the way of life they have embraced for generations. Instead, they choose to live under a canopy of artillery, march in Soviet-style parades and devote hours to social media disputes with pro-Ukraine opponents.
At the same time, the conflict has raised the question of identity for the people of Khartsyzsk. Most of them, Ukrainian by passport and Russian by nationality, gravitate toward Russia in their political views and don't accept Ukraine's current lean toward Europe. Instead, they dream of a return to Soviet times, when the city prospered. Thus, the conflict is not only between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian sides but between the region's romanticized Soviet past and whatever the future holds.
This photographic essay explores what it actually means to live in Khartsyzsk as the town and its residents drift further and further from Ukraine.