people at beach

Ukrainians reflect on life a year into war 

​​In late February of 2022, even as Russian troops moved closer to Ukraine's border and all signs pointed to war, many Ukrainians woke up in disbelief as tanks started to roll into their country. Several Ukrainians shared their memories of Russia's invasion of Ukraine — before and after — which happened a year ago this week.

The World

Marina Zabgaieva, a native of Odesa, a multicultural port city, remembers the thriving city of her childhood and idyllic family outings to the Black Sea. 

It seems like a lifetime ago.

On Feb. 24, 2022, everything changed. Even though the signs had been there, Russia’s full-scale invasion in Ukraine came as a shock to her and many other Ukranians who awoke to the sounds of explosions and tanks rolling into the country.

“How can [war] be here? We are living in [a] civilization in [a] modern country in Europe. How can something like this [be]?” Zabgaieva said, reflecting on her immediate reaction to war.

Now, a year later, Zabgaieva and many other Ukrainians are doing what they can to survive and help each other amid the air raid sirens, power and water outages, fuel shortages, military curfew, missile strikes and constant threat of a Russian amphibious landing.

For Zabgaieva, it means using yoga to treat PTSD.

woman holding hands together

Marina Zabgaieva


Cory Vaillancourt/The World

For Olexandr Slavski, also in Odesa, it means working as a sort of realtor for the army, matching state-owned rental property with international humanitarian groups that provide aid to Ukrainians.

man standing

Olexandr Slavski


Cory Vaillancourt/The World

For another Odesa resident, Maria Bolgar, it means donating a significant amount of her income as an English tutor to the war effort. 

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Maria Bolgar


Cory Vaillancourt/The World

Hear more of their stories by clicking the audio player above.

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