Poise amidst wreckage: Graduation waltz of Ukrainian students leaves world numb
In a jaw-dropping display of defiance, teenage school-leavers in war-torn Ukraine don their ballgowns and tuxes for an end-of-year prom.
The brutal Russian invasion has left their high school in the rubble. However, a handful of Ukrainian students were adamant about dancing the waltz to celebrate their graduation in a customary way.
In a stunning gesture of defiance, teenage school-leavers in war-torn Ukraine wore ball gowns and tuxedos for an end-of-year prom. It was a more solemn occasion for those at Kharkiv's School No. 134, done against the backdrop of their bombed-out classrooms as troops from their country's army looked on.
Olena Mosolova, a geography teacher from the school, was quoted by DailyMail saying, "We had imagined a different 'last bell' for our kids, but it is what it is, and we want to have a celebration for the kids."
According to Suspilne, a Ukrainian news outlet, around a third of the pupils attended the event on Sunday.
"There were a lot of pals from school. We were like one big family," said 16-year-old Anna Episheva, who was seen in a crimson ball gown amid the ruins.
"We chose clothes with the girls and were relieved that everyone would look stunning on graduation day. However, the "Russian world" came to us and wrecked all of our dreams," she added.
Another graduating student, Hlib Opashnian, claimed he witnessed the school's destruction days after Russia invaded the country in February, adding, 'I'm pleased to be graduating.'
Others have yet to be able to return to the city on the Russian border, which was the main target for Vladimir Putin's forces early in the assault.
According to Kostyantyn Nemichev, a soldier who assisted in the city's defence, the school was the Russian occupiers' final holdout before being pushed out of Kharkiv.
According to local mayor Ihor Terekhov, Russia "does not leave Kharkiv alone" and "constantly maintains people in terror."
The video shared by Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Twitter handle has now become viral, with several people slamming Putin and his forces for taking away the best years of Ukraine's children. Here's a look at some of the reactions: