Much of the news on the Russia-Ukraine war, now entering its third year, centers on advances, retreats, casualties, funding and politics.

Often missing from the coverage is the subtle, more pernicious damage to Ukrainian culture and history – the libraries, churches and artifacts damaged or lost to shrapnel, bullets and looting.

Notre Dame anthropologist Ian Kuijt and filmmaker Bill Donaruma made two trips to Ukraine in 2023. Working with Ukrainian scholars including National University of Kyiv archaeologist Pavlo Shydlovskyi, they toured parts of the country that had been occupied by Russian troops, documenting what they saw.

In an essay and two short films, they take readers to a bullet-riddled village church and a hill that has served as a lookout point since medieval times, where trenches dug by Ukrainian troops revealed human bones from centuries ago.

“While the destruction of churches, libraries and museums viscerally evokes a sense of loss,” they write, “there’s an entire unseen world below the ground surface – filled with untold numbers of artifacts, bones and buried buildings – that are exposed when trenches are created.”

We've also collected articles on the impact of drone warfare, the role of collaborators now and in the past, and other stories to mark the second anniversary of the war in Ukraine.

Nick Lehr

Arts + Culture Editor

The ruins of a church in Bohorodychne, Donetsk district, Ukraine, on Jan. 27, 2024. Ignacio Marin/Anadolu via Getty Images

The Russia-Ukraine War has caused a staggering amount of cultural destruction – both seen and unseen

Ian Kuijt, University of Notre Dame; Pavlo Shydlovskyi, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv; William Donaruma, University of Notre Dame

In addition to destroyed buildings, there’s an entire underground world – filled with untold numbers of artifacts, bones and ruins – that are exposed and damaged by the digging of trenches.

Satellite radar data shows the complete destruction of the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. Xu et al. (2024)

War in Ukraine at 2 years: Destruction seen from space – via radar

Sylvain Barbot, USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Satellite photography of the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut shows block after block of destroyed buildings. Satellite radar provides a different view – a systematic look at the destruction of the whole city.

Small, cheap, explosives-laden drones have become ubiquitous in the war in Ukraine. Vitalii Nosach/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images

Cult of the drone: At the two-year mark, UAVs have changed the face of war in Ukraine – but not outcomes

Paul Lushenko, US Army War College

Drones have dominated images of the war in Ukraine, but an expert on drone warfare casts doubt on many of the grand claims made for the weapons.

Enemy collaboration in occupied Ukraine evokes painful memories in Europe – and the response risks a rush to vigilante justice

Ronald Niezen, University of San Diego

Liberated cities are prone to vigilante justice against those accused of conspiring with the enemy.

What latest polling says about the mood in Ukraine – and the desire to remain optimistic amid the suffering

Gerard Toal, Virginia Tech

As war drags on, more Ukrainians say that they are prepared to negotiate – but the majority still reject any deal with Russia.

A Western-imposed peace deal in Ukraine risks feeding Russia’s hunger for land – as it did with Serbia

Elis Vllasi, University of Tennessee

The fragility of peace settlements in the Balkans provides a cautionary tale. US and EU policymakers may inadvertently make matters worse by acceding to the aggressor’s territorial ambitions.

Calling the war in Ukraine a ‘tragedy’ shelters its perpetrators from blame and responsibility

Mariana Budjeryn, Harvard Kennedy School

Calling something a ‘tragedy’ serves to minimize human responsibility for its causes, which can be convenient for the people who are causing the ‘tragedy.’