Ukraine: Before/After February 24, 2022

Before February 24, 2022, Ukrainians enjoyed the freedoms of living in a democracy. They went to work and school. They spent holidays at local tourist spots or in Western European countries. They arm wrestled, played in trees and practiced dance steps in the park. They walked their streets without fear.

After February 24, 2022 — the date when Ukrainians awoke to the nightmare of Russia’s full-scale, illegal invasion — daily life became difficult. Some citizens risked their lives to leave, too often saying farewell to loved ones for the very last time. Many stayed. Families sheltered from bombs in basements and underground stations. Young men and women took up arms to defend their homeland.

While Russia’s illegal war has caused injury or death to civilians and destroyed infrastructure, it has not weakened Ukrainians’ resolve to preserve their dignity, sovereignty and democracy.

These photos do not feature the same person twice but evoke similar situations before and after the February 24 invasion.

Elderly woman hanging onto playground swing set, stretching (© Sergei Grits/AP)

(© Sergei Grits/AP)

(© Sergei Grits/AP)

Elderly woman hanging onto playground swing set, stretching (© Sergei Grits/AP)
Teenage girl standing next to destroyed swing set, rubble Teenage girl standing next to destroyed swing set, rubble (© Emilio Morenatti/AP)
Teenage girl standing next to destroyed swing set, rubble (© Emilio Morenatti/AP)

(© Emilio Morenatti/AP)

(© Emilio Morenatti/AP)

Two men engaged in arm wrestling at outdoor exercise facility (© Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

(© Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

(© Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

Two men engaged in arm wrestling at outdoor exercise facility (© Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)
Disabled veteran flexes biceps, acknowledging welcoming crowd at airport (© David Joles/Star Tribune/Getty Images)
Disabled veteran flexes biceps, acknowledging welcoming crowd at airport (© David Joles/Star Tribune/Getty Images)

(© David Joles/Star Tribune/Getty Images)

(© David Joles/Star Tribune/Getty Images)

Children sitting on tree near river, railroad bridge in background (© Skoles/Shutterstock.com)

(© Skoles/Shutterstock.com)

(© Skoles/Shutterstock.com)

Children sitting on tree near river, railroad bridge in background (© Skoles/Shutterstock.com)
 Elderly women holding hands, crossing damaged bridge with other refugees (© Vadim Ghirda/AP)
Elderly women holding hands, crossing damaged bridge with other refugees (© Vadim Ghirda/AP)

(© Vadim Ghirda/AP)

(© Vadim Ghirda/AP)

Elderly man and woman dancing at park, people in background (© khorkins/Shutterstock.com)

(© khorkins/Shutterstock.com)

(© khorkins/Shutterstock.com)

Elderly man and woman dancing at park, people in background (© khorkins/Shutterstock.com)
Elderly woman looking at deceased man in open casket at funeral (© Rodrigo Abd/AP)
Elderly woman looking at deceased man in open casket at funeral (© Rodrigo Abd/AP)

(© Rodrigo Abd/AP)

(© Rodrigo Abd/AP)

Boy playing cello in underpass, adults and children passing by (© viewimage/Shutterstock.com)

(© viewimage/Shutterstock.com)

(© viewimage/Shutterstock.com)

Boy playing cello in underpass, adults and children passing by (© viewimage/Shutterstock.com)
Woman and child taking shelter in subway car, dim light Woman and child taking shelter in subway car, dim light (© Felipe Dana/AP)
Woman and child taking shelter in subway car, dim light (© Felipe Dana/AP)

(© Felipe Dana/AP)

(© Felipe Dana/AP)

Man riding neon green bicycle in traffic (© Doroznik/Shutterstock.com)

(© Doroznik/Shutterstock.com)

(© Doroznik/Shutterstock.com)

Man riding neon green bicycle in traffic (© Doroznik/Shutterstock.com)
Man pushing neon green bicycle through scorched earth, damaged military vehicles (© Serhii Nuzhnenko/AP)
Man pushing neon green bicycle through scorched earth, damaged military vehicles (© Serhii Nuzhnenko/AP)

(© Serhii Nuzhnenko/AP)

(© Serhii Nuzhnenko/AP)

Young woman walking on street, people in background (© Sergei Grits/AP)

(© Sergei Grits/AP)

(© Sergei Grits/AP)