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The Story Behind a Defining War Photo

The Daily

The New York Times

News, Daily News

4.597.8K Ratings

🗓️ 15 March 2022

⏱️ 23 minutes

🧾️ Download transcript


This episode details graphic scenes and contains strong language. The image shows four people lying on the ground — a woman, a man and two children who had been fleeing from a suburb of Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital. The woman and her children had been killed by a mortar moments earlier. Around them are Ukrainian soldiers attempting to revive the man. The picture was taken by the photojournalist Lynsey Addario, alongside Andriy Dubchak, a Ukrainian videographer. When it was published by The Times, the image became a watershed, offering irrefutable evidence that Russia’s tactics in the war were killing civilians. Guest: Lynsey Addario, a photojournalist currently working in Ukraine.

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From New York Times, I'm Michael Obaro. This is a daily.


A shocking photo that provides a picture of what is going on with civilians inside Ukraine right now.


I want to warn you though, it is graphic and it is disturbing.


Last week, my colleague, photojournalist Lindsey Adario, took a photograph that immediately defined the new reality of the war in Ukraine.


Russia's president Vladimir Putin has repeatedly denied his forces are targeting civilians, but on Sunday the world saw the truth for itself, with this horrifying picture of a family lying dead after trying it.


And offered irrefutable evidence that Russia's tactics are killing innocent civilians and potentially violating the rules of war.


As civilians snide under intense firing around the suburbs of Ukraine's capital, the White House says there are now quote strong indications, their words, Russia's Committee war crimes in Ukraine.


Today, I spoke with Lindsey about the photo and the story behind it.


It's Tuesday, March 15.


Lindsey, tell us about how it is that you came to take this photograph.


So as the war started, I was kind of just covering everything. Every day I was covering a lot of shelling, the exchange of fire between the Russians and the Ukrainians.


And I wanted to capture what was going on with civilians and particularly women and children.


To me, they pay the highest price in war and for me, that's where I like to focus my coverage. So I heard that people were fleeing from the sort of suburb of Kiev called Irpin.


It's a place where there was heavy fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces.


And I was seeing a lot of images of civilians fleeing across this broken bridge.


The bridge had been broken by Ukrainians intentionally to stop the Russians advance into Kiev.


So there was no way to drive across. And so there were these incredible scenes of elderly, the ill, women, children, all sort of climbing across this bridge.


And so the night before I took this photograph, I decided I wanted to go.


So I went the next morning at 730 with Andrii, who was my fixer, driver, videographer, a very well-known photographer in Ukraine.


And we headed out with a New York Times Security Advisor, Steve. And the three of us went to the bridge.


And as we approached, I assumed we would be covering a regular civilian evacuation, sort of a stream of civilians, much like I'd seen in those photographs.


And very quickly after we arrived, I heard a lot of small arms fire, a lot of artillery.


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