The region that now encompasses the nation of Ukraine has known wars and uprisings for more than a millennium. Over the centuries, it has been variously ruled by the Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, and Russian empires, among other powers, and it was part of the Soviet Union from 1922 until it gained independence in 1991, when the USSR fell apart.
Russia’s current president, Vladimir Putin, clearly believes that it should still belong to his country, and in 2014, he forcibly annexed the portion of Ukraine called Crimea, and he backed separatist rebels of the two republics in the Donbas region. On Feb. 21, Russia recognized the two republics as independent states. (Russia is high on the list of the countries with the largest militaries.)
All that was prelude to a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, beginning on Feb. 24 of this year. Since that time, the world has read daily stories about the conflict – the first major land war in Europe since World War II.
As the war waged, we have learned that the formidable Russian army is less competent than was believed, and that the Russians, frustrated by their lack of battlefield success, have taken to attacking civilian targets in many cities. We also learned that the Ukrainian people, civilians as well as armed forces, are willing and able to fight long and hard to protect their country and that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a former television comedian, has evolved into a strong and determined leader.
Meanwhile, an estimated 4 million people have fled Ukraine to escape the war – the majority of them going to neighboring Poland – and another 6.5 million have left their homes within the country. (These are the countries where the most Ukrainian refugees are going.)
All of this has been well documented by photographers, Ukrainian and otherwise, working for major news organizations, photo bureaus, and nongovernmental organizations, as well as independently. 24/7 Wall St. has reviewed the latest photographs cataloged by Getty Images to assemble this group of images – some horrific, some depressing, some heartwarming – from approximately the past seven days, showing the effects of the war.
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