AP PHOTOS: Ukraine endures a second year of war with scenes of grief, suffering and also joy

By Isaac M February 23, 2024

The second year of Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s full-scale invasion brought no respite for Ukrainian soldiers or civilians.

Associated Press photographers documented the past 12 months of death and destruction, agony and grief — as well as the glimpses of joy — that are staples of life during war.

The countryside in eastern areas of Ukraine — an industrial region bordering Russia where some of the most intense fighting has unfolded since the war began on Feb. 24, 2022 — is now punctuated with splintered and smashed trees reminiscent of a World War I battlefield.

Along the front line, soldiers battled from trenches and relied heavily on artillery, in another echo of the 1914-18 conflict.

Away from it, bodies littered ruined buildings, forests and roadsides during the war’s second year. Russian barrages repeatedly blasted civilian targets, frequently reducing apartment buildings to rubble, flames and smoke.

Communities disappeared, replaced by grim desolation. Relatives wept over the open coffins of their loved ones. The young and old, and their pets, lost their homes or fled them.

The conflict has killed more than 10,000 civilians and wounded nearly 20,000 others, the United Nations says. The cost of reconstruction is likely to run into hundreds of billions of dollars.

Among the casualties, Ukraine expects that more than 20,000 people, many of them soldiers, will have a limb amputated. Many are victims of anti-tank mines, aerial bombs, missiles and artillery shells.

Images of women learning to fire guns and cadets trying on gas masks are a reminder that Ukraine would like to get still more people in arms. Amid war weariness and the physical and emotional strains on families, a broader mobilization to push back Moscow’s forces is a sensitive issue.

Despite the bleakness, there are snatched moments of joy: dancing in a subway station, students celebrating graduation, people taking a dip in a peaceful lake, a couple sitting on a park bench, and Christmas celebrations.


Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine


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