LVIV — The war effort is everywhere in Lviv.
The city, the largest in western Ukraine, has around 200,000 people displaced from elsewhere in the country since the Russian invasion in late February. Some of its schools and theaters have been turned into shelters to accommodate new residents.
Street musicians in the narrow streets sing Ukrainian and foreign songs as they always have, but now with signs saying half the money will go to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Street music and birdsong regularly overlap with air raids.
The city was miraculously spared during World War II, but has so far suffered two aerial bombardments.
The people of Lviv, as well as the displaced Ukrainians, are united. Many Ukrainians see it as a continuation of their long history of struggle for independence.
Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have arrived from abroad to help their country and join the armed forces. The number of volunteers already exceeds the current capacity to train and equip them. Thus, most of those with previous military experience are called up for service, and others are put on a reserve list. Men and women, young and old, right and left, people from all walks of life and all professions are fighting shoulder to shoulder.
Civilians do not stand idly by. Some of them have been trained in first aid and the basic rules of handling weapons. Others make camouflage nets or unload and sort humanitarian aid. People donate to private and public initiatives by buying drones, vehicles and other military equipment.
Volunteers prepare trucks to be sent east to areas directly affected by the war. The volunteers come from a multitude of professions – managers, IT professionals, university professors and more – all coming together to process the boxes of foreign aid sent by the Ukrainian diaspora and other well-wishers abroad.
There are plenty of supplies out there, but in a country where around one in four citizens have left their homes, demand is still very high. The most important needs are medicines, hygiene articles or simply food and clothing. Without forgetting the protective equipment of the soldiers.
A displaced woman, Aide, was celebrating her birthday. Aide, 48, is of Azerbaijani origin but has lived in Ukraine since the age of 13. She was kicked out of her home twice due to Russian aggression.
In 2014, she and her family fled Donetsk to a town near Kryvyi Rih when war broke out and the Ukrainian government lost control of the east of the country. She worked at a local hospital that served food to patients. Aide’s daughter was killed in a bombing in 2014 and her son was kidnapped by Russian proxies to fight against Ukraine. Aide says he never spoke about what he went through there after refusing to fight against his own country.
This year, Aide, her son and her grandson were again forced to flee, this time to Lviv. They hope to go abroad once they have obtained the necessary documents.
Like any war, this one has its victims. In Lviv, mourners usually pay their last respects to fallen warriors in the splendid baroque church of the Saints Peter and Paul garrison.
The number of servicemen and civilians who died in this unprovoked war is still unknown – the latest estimate of UN civilian casualties is 4,521, although the true number is likely higher.
Many people have lost their homes. In Chernihiv and Kharkiv, outlying residential neighborhoods were the first targets of massive shelling. Some cities, such as Volnovakha and besieged Mariupol, almost ceased to exist as such. Kyiv also has a number of damaged buildings, but its suburbs have suffered the heaviest assaults. Bucha, Irpin, Hostomel and Borodyanka have become known worldwide for the looting, destruction and atrocities that the authorities have committed according to Russian troops.
For millions of Ukrainians, the world has been shattered. Now they are doing everything to win this war and restore peace.
Director of Photography: Christy Havranek, Senior Photo Editor: Chris McGonigal, Deputy Political Editor: Elise Foley, Copy Editor: Jillian Capewell