‘No to war’: Ukraine children recount Russian invasion through art

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A woman’s portrait painted blue and yellow -- the colors of the Ukrainian flag -- and streaked with blood-red paint is among 300 pictures by Ukrainian children displayed in a Kyiv bomb-shelter Friday.

“It’s worth reminding adults -- the whole world -- that children see all this, experience it, feel it. And unlike us, they can’t make decisions,” said Olena Sotnyk a Ukrainian politician and advisor the prime minister.

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“They expect adults and the world to act to stop the war,” one of the exhibition’s organizers told AFP.

The exhibition titled “Children. War. Future” opened to journalists Friday in a central Kyiv metro station that has been closed since the beginning of Russia’s invasion on February 24.

The Maidan Independence stop has instead functioned as a bomb shelter beneath the site of massive pro-democracy protests in 2014 that toppled Ukraine’s Kremlin-friendly leader.

The paintings by Ukrainian children from across the country depict horrors from places like Mariupol -- a city brutally besieged and bombed by Russian forces -- and Butcha, one of the first towns where civilians were found killed en masse.

Others are optimistic: a smiling soldier straps on a helmet; a woman wears a blue and yellow wreath of flowers with a dove surrounded by multicolored flowers.

But the captions are unambiguous: “No to war,” “I don’t want to die.”

“What these children feel is the fear of war, anxiety. But on the other hand, there is faith, hope, support, understanding that there will be bright days in the future,” said Danylo Tsvyok, who was also involved in staging the collection.

Sotnyk said there were plans in place to create a digital exhibition of several thousand images by children reflecting on the conflict.

The Ukrainian prosecutor general says that at least 347 children have been killed and another 646 wounded since the beginning of Russia’s invasion.

Read more: Ukrainian kids play soccer again in stadium bombed out by Russia

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