Nataliya Vasilyeva

The Telegraph

Nataliya Vasilyeva has covered both of the two main conflicts of the year with distinction.

Vasilyeva was a long-time Russia correspondent who switched to cover the Middle East just on the eve of the Israel-Hamas war.

She is a superb writer, a brilliant story-getter, and a compassionate interviewer. She is someone who has such in-depth knowledge of her subject matter she never fails to produce the stories that everyone wants to read.

A Russian passport holder, Nataliya was barred from Ukraine but nevertheless managed to produce compelling stories about Russia’s war in Ukraine such as a front-page story for The Telegraph Magazine, describing the extraordinary saga of one family from Ukraine’s besieged city of Mariupol.

Nataliya wrote an intimate portrait of the Chechelyuk family surviving against incredible odds in arguably the bloodiest battle of the Ukraine war. Thanks to her meticulous reporting as well as an extensive use of visuals provided by the family, Nataliya was able to map out their journey across the war-ravaged city, and eventually from the frontline and a Russian filtration camp to Europe. More than a year after the war began, the family is still looking for their elder daughter.

While living in exile in Turkey, Nataliya managed to write a number of ground-breaking stories, delving into Russia’s efforts to kidnap and brainwash Ukrainian children from occupied territories.

In one piece of her three-part series, Nataliya tracked down relatives of a teenage boy adopted by Russia’s ombudswoman for children’s rights who bragged about the child to Vladimir Putin and claimed the parents had abandoned him.

Maria Lvova-Belova did not comment for the story but ended up issuing a detailed statement after the publication, insisting the boy was not adopted but taken into her foster care and that he was free to speak to his biological parents.

Nataliya’s excellent reporting skills came into full view when she relocated to Jerusalem to work as The Telegraph’s Middle East correspondent. Less than two weeks after she moved to that country, Nataliya found herself covering the world’s biggest story at the time as Hamas unleashed an unprecedented attack on Israel.

She hit the ground running as she spent the first week of the Israel-Hamas war in the south of Israel bordering Gaza where she reported the immediate aftermath of the deadliest terrorist attack in Israel’s history.

Along with several exclusive dispatches that offered first-hand accounts of the Hamas incursion, Nataliya teamed up with Henry Bodkin and The Telegraph’s visuals team to produce an investigation into the October 7 attack, drawing on the intelligence to show how Israel’s $1 billion hi-tech fence with Gaza left the residents at the mercy of the Hamas gunmen.