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How war360.in.ua, a virtual online museum, captures the scale of destruction caused by Russian aggression

The destroyed An-225 Mriya airplane. Antonov Airport (GML), Kyiv region. Photo by Dmytro Malyshev 


Not only to see the horrors of war on a map, but also to enter destroyed buildings and walk along streets where Russian tanks were driving yesterday. A virtual museum war360.in.ua was created in Ukraine to preserve the memory of the consequences of the Russian invasion. Panoramic photographs of destroyed Ukrainian cities and villages in 360-degree format, which means a 360-degree view, are available on an online map of Ukraine.


A destroyed building in Gostomel on Proskurivska Street, Kyiv region. Photo by Dmytro Malyshev


"Our map shows the scale of the ruins in the country. The geography of destruction is huge. Wherever you click on the map, there will be destruction," - explains Taras Volyanyuk, author of the visual media project.


Ruins of the Ukraina Hotel in Chernihiv. Photo by Dmytro Malyshev


The idea to create such a map arose in March 2022, after the liberation of the Kyiv region. The man decided to record the anti-human actions of the Russians in a broader perspective: "In my opinion, this is a very documentary approach. We do not choose a focus. We just record exactly 360 degrees around us. We keep it as it is."

Remains of the Irpinsky Lipki residential complex, Irpin, Kyiv region. Photo by Dmytro Malyshev


Taras is convinced that we must hurry to document history now, because tomorrow it may not exist, and the de-occupied Kyiv region has demonstrated this. Taras and his team traveled there twice, one week apart, but found a completely different picture.

"After the sappers cleared most of the objects, people started returning and, accordingly, cleaning up. Burnt enemy vehicles disappeared from the streets, and people started planting flowers in their yards. Then we realized that people wanted to return to normalcy very quickly and clean up all the garbage left by the occupiers. From their streets and from their lives," - the project author recalls.


A panoramic view inside the Kharkiv Regional State Administration after two Russian missiles hit it. Photo by Dmytro Malyshev


He wanted to approach the idea in a high-quality manner, so he engaged a professional photographer Dmytro Malyshev, a Google Street Wiew certified photographer, to join the team. He has already taken more than 1500 panoramas available on the website. Each photo has a description: the date and place of documentation, as well as an explanation of what caused the destruction. In addition to Kyiv and Kyiv region, the site also features panoramas of destruction from Lviv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, and Kherson regions.


Taras admits that sometimes it is difficult to get permission to record the consequences of Russian attacks or occupation: "The closer you are to the frontline and the fighting, the harder it is to get permission to shoot in 360. And it's almost impossible to do it from a drone."


Ruins of the Mykolaiv Regional State Administration. Photo by Dmytro Malyshev


The goal of the project is to tell the international audience about the scope and extent of the suffering that the Russians brought to Ukrainian lands with the war. Taras feels that the war in Ukraine is "boring everyone," so he is convinced that it is worth looking for new ways and formats to attract the attention of an international audience. One of the new areas of the project's work is the use of virtual reality (VR) technologies. The effect of viewing through VR glasses is much more emotional than any video because it gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in certain places, as well as to feel more deeply and acutely what many Ukrainians have been facing for the past two years.


"We understand that watching these panoramas allows you to dive deeper into reality thanks to VR glasses. So we are working with various organizations and looking for ways to participate in exhibitions and conferences where we can present our work," Taras believes that this method may interest foreigners to delve deeper into the topic of the Russian-Ukrainian war.


One of the damaged residential buildings in Kharkiv's Northern Saltovka district. Photo by Dmytro Malyshev


In the future, the war360.in.ua team plans to expand the project: add video interviews with people on the ground, try to shoot 360-degree videos, and update the website. Taras dreams of the de-occupation of the temporarily occupied territories in order to document the consequences of Russian aggression for future generations, preserve them in history, and then move on to the stage of rebuilding the country.

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