The Ukrainian people suffer daily lives of deprivation as the Russian war marks a full year.
Some 8,000 civilians, including more than 400 children, have been killed in the attacks, according to the United Nations, houses and infrastructure have been destroyed and more than 13 million people have been displaced inside and outside of the country.
With no end to the war in sight, here are some photos and a video depicting some of the hardships people have gone through and continue to endure.
Snigana Olefir, 34, who lives in Bucha near the capital Kyiv, lost her husband Igor, who was 31, in a Russian missile attack during his training in the northern city of Chernihiv.
They had just married in August 2021.
Holding her daughter on her lap, Snigana Olefir wipes away tears at a ceremony honoring soldiers Dec. 6, 2022, in Bucha, Ukraine, where Igor was given a national medal. (Kyodo)
“He spoke kind words to me every day, and we were a happy family.”
Snigana remembers screaming when she heard the sad news, but nothing else because of the shock. She was unable to see him at the morgue and was instead shown a photo of him with a burned face.
“I lost my loved one and my heart was torn apart.”
As she flipped through an album, photos of them at their wedding and playing with their daughter attested to how they had expected the happy days to continue.
Photo in an album shows Snigana (R) and Igor Olefir on their wedding day in August 2021 near Kyiv. (Kyodo)
Alina Velmozhko, 36, evacuated with her two daughters in June to Osaka in western Japan, where her older sister lives, leaving her 40-year-old husband Victor in Ukraine.
The younger girl Zlata was just over 1 month old when they left Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine. When she was born April, 8, 2022, a month earlier than expected, air raid sirens were ringing out and they spent days in the sunless basement praying for safety.
“I had a really happy life until the war started.”
When Alina communicated with Victor via smartphone from her new residence in municipal housing, he told Zlata, now 10 months old, “You’ve grown again,” to everyone’s smiles.
Zlata Velmozhko (C) stands on her mother Alina’s lap and reaches out to her father Victor on the screen in municipal housing in Osaka, western Japan, on Feb. 3, 2023. (Kyodo)
Alina cherishes a photo taken just before they hurriedly left the city — the only image of the family of four together — without the opportunity for a proper farewell.
“I want my family to live together again. That’s my only wish.”
Supplied photo shows (from R) Victor Velmozhko, Alina holding Zlata and their elder daughter Yana posing for a photo in May 2022 in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, just before the three left the city. (Kyodo)
Dmytro Koval’chuk, 26, was summoned the day before the Feb. 24 invasion and took on a mission in the vicinity of Kyiv, which became a fierce battlefield as the Russian army tried to seize the capital.
But he returned to Kyiv for treatment after a cluster bomb injured his shoulder in September while heading to Zaporizhzhia.
Dmytro Koval’chuk is pictured on Jan. 20, 2023, in Kyiv. (Kyodo)
A former 800-meter track athlete who has won national championships, Koval’chuk was encouraging his comrades and boosting their morale just like his coaches did to go all out at competitions.
Although he admitted to being terrified at times, he said, “I want to go back to the front line to protect my men. When we win, I’ll be a track and field coach and enjoy life.”
Supplied photo shows Dmytro Kovalchuk (front) running a mini-marathon in Kyiv in September 2021. (Kyodo)
Alla Gasiukevich, 39, fled with her son Mykhailo, 12, last April to Japan, where her cousin is. While feeling guilty about leaving her husband and parents behind and wishing for an early return home, she has prioritized the safety of her child for now.
“The war changed everything. I feel like I’m walking through someone else’s life,” she said, adding that a lot of time together with her son has made the two “become mutually supportive.”
Alla Gasiukevich (C, L) and her son Mykhailo (C, R) stand in a crowd at Tokyo’s Shibuya scramble crossing on Feb. 12, 2023. (Kyodo)
In her hometown of Dnipro, eastern Ukraine, there were nights when the explosions of battle kept her awake and she spent all night praying and thinking she did not want to die.
Supplied photo shows (from L) Alla Gasiukevich, Mykhailo and her husband Evgeniy in June 2021 in Dnipro, Ukraine. (Kyodo)
Valentyna Glabysu, 71, in Bucha expressed mixed feelings as her brother and sister are both of Russian nationality, born to a Ukrainian father and a Russian mother who met after he was wounded in World War II as she was a nurse in central Russia.
When the siblings reestablished contact after the Russian invasion, they did not talk about the war, she said, handcrafting a camouflage net for use by Ukrainian soldiers at a freezing cold school amid power outages.
Valentyna Glabysu ties a piece of cloth to a net on Dec. 13, 2022, in Bucha, Ukraine. (Kyodo)
“I can’t understand why they would destroy this beautiful country,” she said.
A former Ukrainian language teacher, she knows some of her students died on the front lines. “Please not be found by the enemy,” she says of her wish as she quietly tied pieces of cloth to a net.
Photo taken in Bucha on Dec. 26, 2022, shows Valentyna Glabysu’s 2009 photo as a Ukrainian language teacher in Kherson, southern Ukraine. (Kyodo)
Tetiana, 62, had her home destroyed by a Russian attack in Makariv near Kyiv, where the battle was fierce.
“There were many missile attacks, and each time I fled to the basement,” she recalled.
Tetiana is pictured with her dog at the ruins of her home in Makariv, Ukraine, on Jan. 2, 2023. (Kyodo)
She now lives at an acquaintance’s house nearby with her eldest son, having separated with her daughters’ families she had been living with, who evacuated elsewhere.
She has her family photos stored on her smartphone. “Spending time with my family was the most important time for me. I want to come back and live here as soon as possible.”
Photo taken on Jan. 2, 2023, shows an undated image of Tetiana (far R) eating with her family at home in Makariv, Ukraine, before the Russian invasion, stored on her smartphone. In the background are scattered dishes left in her bombed kitchen. (Kyodo)
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