Both journalists are Ukrainian. Maloletka, a longtime AP freelance reporter, is based in the country, while Chernov, an AP staff journalist, is based in Germany. “This is a story they are telling from the perspective of people who are watching their country come under attack,” Pace said. “It’s personal to them to cover this up, and they feel a real responsibility to make sure the world is seeing what’s happening.” In documenting the deaths and devastation caused by Russian forces on this Ukrainian city, AP journalists not only provide a rare glimpse into the horrors of war, but also show Russia from refuses to take responsibility for it.
Chernov and Maloletka are among the few journalists working — and, according to to the AP, the only international media – in Mariupol, the besieged southern port city home to some 430,000 people before the war. “I think it would be fair to say that since the shelling of Mariupol has increased, they are really the only team on the ground,” Pace said. Their gutted reports about mass grave dug for the death of Mariupol and the children in them served as a fact check against Russian claims that they were not targeting civilian. Last week, the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov declare that a maternity hospital bombed by the Russians was empty of all patients and doctors, a report denied. video and photos taken by two AP journalists after the attack. “They wanted to get the truth out,” says Pace — it’s not just about the visuals, it’s about the powerful stuff. “It’s about making sure people know the facts about what’s going on in a place where communication is really difficult.” The city, blockaded by Russian troops, was left without electricity and mobile phone networks for several days. Once the AP can reach its journalists on the ground, there won’t be much time left to chat. “Much of what we know about how they are doing also comes from their work,” says Pace. “That’s how we usually know what they are like, where they are.”