Wendell Steavenson

The Economist's 1843 Magazine

Wendell Steavenson has reported from Ukraine for The Economist's1843 magazine since the start of the war. During that time, she has written a series of phenomenal pieces chronicling various aspects of the war. The people she has met, and written about, during her time in Ukraine each have fascinating stories: a violinist accused of spying; the Ukrainian staff in Chernobyl who negotiated with Russian soldiers during occupation; a family from Mariupol who fled east through Russia.

In her piece about Chernobyl, which she wrote with Marta Rodionova who assisted in setting up interviews and translation, Steavenson reconstructed the events of the 38 days that the Russians occupied the plant. She spent hours interviewing Ukrainian staff. Several protagonists recount their personal stories, including Valeriy Semenov, the plant’s head of security, said he felt that his whole life had prepared him for his role under the Russian occupation and the hours of tense negotiations he engaged in. We also meet a group of campers who unwittingly found themselves caught up in a potential nuclear disaster. Steavenson’s most recent piece about Alex, a Ukrainian prisoner of war, is exceptional. After several hours of interviews, Steavenson was able to relay Alex’s harrowing experience in Russia in meticulous detail, from the hours of interrogations to the methods of torture. There are also surprising moments of tenderness in Alex’s story. At one point, Alex thought he was about to be shot, so he prayed. As he did so, a Chechen soldier wiped away his tears. In Kyiv, Steavenson met a Ukrainian sniper, Sasha, who is tasked with hunting saboteurs. This piece, which is very moving, is a deep insight into the damage this war has caused Sasha. He worries that killing Russians is corroding his soul. Each of these pieces is extensively reported and beautifully written, bringing humanity to a terrible conflict. Steavenson’s other pieces include the Ukrainian Eurovision entrants, the librarians of Lviv and American fighters in Ukraine.