on the cover

On the Cover of New York Magazine: Ukraine’s Young People, In Their Own Words

Photo: Mikhail Palinchak

New York Magazine’s March 14–27, 2022 issue tells the story of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine through the perspective of the country’s youth, all of whom have only ever known a free and independent Ukraine. Over the course of two weeks, the 30 contributors shared their stories with a team of U.S. and Ukraine-based reporters assembled by New York. They texted, shared photographs, and talked late into the night about the invasion that has upended their lives, and how they’re navigating their new realities.

Despite the long build-up to this conflict, Russia’s attack caught young Ukrainians by surprise – in the hours leading up to the invasion, Ukrainians were watching Netflix, meeting friends at cafés, charging their laptops and power banks just in case, and generally, going about their daily routines. When explosions started going off at 5 am on February 24th, “there was shock, utter shock,” 26-year-old poet and journalist Danyil Zadorozhnyi tells New York. “I just sat there reading, not knowing what to do,” he says. “I didn’t wake anyone.”

New York started planning for this issue on February 24th, the day of Russia’s invasion. The editors sensed an opportunity for rich storytelling in the glimpses of the invasion coming out of Instagram and TikTok, and within a few days, the project had come into focus: Telling the story of the invasion narratively, through the eyes of Ukrainian citizens born since the country declared independence in 1991.

The magazine tackled this issue from from multiple angles – editors assigned Ukraine-based reporters Yaroslav Druziuk, Oz Katerji, Alex Guzenko, Neil Hauer, and Jack Losh; meanwhile, Bridget Read, Laura Thompson, Reeves Wiedeman, Lila Shapiro, and Amelia Schonbek reported from the United States, through social networks. New York’s photography department contacted amateur and professional photographers and invited them to share their most personal images. “All of the photographs are slices of life under siege,” says New York’s photography director Jody Quon. “What we didn’t want was to document the war with war photography. The New York Times and the Associated Press are already doing an excellent job of that. We wanted to tap into their personal worlds.”

The cover subject is a young woman named Anastasiia Mokhina, photographed by Mikhail Palinchak. Just a few weeks ago, Mokhina, 24, was an email marketer planning her wedding with her fiancé. “On February 24, by 10 a.m. he and I were at the military enlistment office, where my father and his comrades-in-arms were waiting for us,” she says. “Now, my father, fiancé, and I are serving in Kyiv. I am on duty at checkpoints, checking cars and suspicious people, studying tactical medicine, creating lists of necessary equipment.”

On the Cover: Ukraine’s Young People, In Their Own Words