It has already been 13 days since the war in Ukraine started. Since then, the conflict has only escalated, and Ukrainians are forced to endure some of the most horrifying events in recent history.

Some have temporarily settled into bomb shelters, others are trying to evacuate their children, grandparents, and pets abroad. Citizens took to the streets as volunteers, while many are actively defending our country from violent perpetrators. Every day of this brutal war takes hundreds of lives and leaves severe imprints on the memories Ukrainians have about the year 2022.

The Depositphotos library covers diverse world events, and we already have thousands of images illustrating the war in Ukraine. This blog post is accompanied by real stories from female Depositphotos contributors and team members; it will remain as an integral part of history, which we hope will never repeat itself again.

 

Nina Korobko, Senior Editor and Screenwriter at Depositphotos

I live alone, and on the first day of the war I woke up at 7 a.m. to the sound of sirens. For a few seconds I thought, “Is this a hallucination, am I just overthinking?” Then, in a couple of seconds – “Maybe it’s a test alarm?” But the sirens did not subside. I quickly jumped out of bed, took my laptop out, and opened the news, only to read the following headline: “Putin has started the war”.

In the weeks leading up to February 24th, we discussed the potential escalation of the situation with relatives and friends. Everyone understood that the aggression was very likely. But to be honest, most of my acquaintances and I did not expect destruction of this scale. And we also hoped that the war would not reach Kyiv.

War of Russia against Ukraine. Building damaged by Russian rockets

On the morning of February 24, I was frozen. I was also angry with myself because of this. I had to act quickly, but my brain was completely disconnected.

At night, I went to sleep in the subway, about 15 minutes from home. I realized that I would feel safer on the cold floor of the station than in my own apartment, which is on an upper floor with a bed right by the window. Two basements near my house were closed, and the nearest open shelter was not ready for war.

After the first day, it was clear that the situation would only worsen, so I had to act right away. At night, I wrote to my relatives, and we drove from Kyiv to Chisinau, Moldova in the morning.

We spent around 27 hours on the road. My aunt, who was driving most of the time, is a hero. Psychologically, the most challenging moment on the road was in the Vinnytsia region. Relatives were talking to an acquaintance from Russia on loudspeaker, who argued that other foreign countries were to blame for the whole situation, and everything was not critical at all. At this time, an air alarm sounded in Vinnytsia. We were accompanied by sirens as we left the city, and for a while, we simply forgot how to breathe.

War of Russia against Ukraine.

In Chisinau, we were met by a local volunteer, Diana. The world rests on people like her. She lives in a country where there is no war, so she could continue safely living her life. But in the first hours of war, she contacted all her acquaintances in Ukraine, persuaded them to seek safety, and helped them find housing and settle down. In general, the level of support from locals in Moldova, as well as in other countries, is incredible. It’s more than I could ever imagine.

A 5-year-old local boy who lived next to us gave me and my cousin a keychain and said, “Mom why did the war start? Doesn’t everyone understand that it leads to people dying?”.”

Now, I’m in Berlin. My colleagues and I were extremely lucky: VistaPrint, which owns Depositphotos, offered financial support for relocation and housing assistance, which can be used by all 450 Ukrainian team members. No matter where you are, it’s hard to feel 100% safe and calm during a war. But at least we have resistance in the form of firm support from our company. And this is incredibly valuable in moments when your life has turned upside down.

 

Svitlana Unuchko, a Depositphotos contributor

Early in the morning on February 24th, I was woken up by a roar of sirens and car alarms. I didn’t understand what was happening. I realized I was alive, but knew that could change in any moment.

Oleksandra Koshytsya street 7a, Kyiv. 26 February 2022 Ukraine

The dimensions and the horror of what was happening didn’t seem real. On the first day of the war, I remained in Kyiv. My mom was with me after a stroke. She couldn’t go down to the bomb shelter five times a day. Therefore, we stayed in the apartment, watched the news, and mentally supported our defenders. Every time an air raid was announced, we didn’t know how things would end, but we tried our best to get rid of negative thoughts.

With my images, I want to show the ugliness of war. The perpetrators must be stopped. We need justice. As I was writing this, 2 explosions sounded outside my window, car alarms went off.

 

Kate Starokoltseva-Skrypnyk, a copywriter at Depositphotos

At 6 a.m. on February 24th, my father called me and said, “The war has begun. We’re leaving.” I got up and started calling friends and family.

Since then, 34 air raid sirens have sounded in my city. Each air-raid signal triggers an algorithm:

Place the cat in a carrier -> Get an emergency kit -> Put on boots and a jacket -> Go down to the basement -> Think about life and its fragility -> Get a notification that it’s safe to leave the bomb shelter -> Go upstairs to apartment #11 and continue living as if there had just been no mortal danger and nothing at all had happened.

War of Russia against Ukraine. Bomb shelter at metro station

***

Did I know there was a possibility of war? Yes, I did. We talked about it with my family (physicians and mathematicians) long before the first Russian missile attack. We planned escape routes, calculated how this might happen, and believed in the probability theory (which suggested that the war was unlikely). But reality, of course, turned out to be much worse than any mathematical miscalculation.

I did not think I would cry, sleep, or struggle with constant nausea for the first few days. I did not think they would bomb my beloved Kyiv, where I went to a conference on game development a couple of months ago, sat with my friends in a cafe on Podil (ancient district), and ate khachapuri.

I did not believe, or did not want to believe, that it was possible to resolve issues with cruise missiles in the 21st century.

***

In the city of cappuccinos on ristretto and sweet croissants, the words “Putin”, “death”, “bomb”, and “refugee” are heard very often. Here, they hide their cats and dogs in jackets to save them from the cold. Here, they sit with children on railway station floors for 9 hours to go abroad. Here, they warm their hands over an iron barrel and hide works of art away from explosions.

War of Russia against Ukraine. Rescue service

But the darker the times, the brighter the people. And I am saved by this light: I make tea, light a garland, get to know my neighbors, and support my loved ones.

 

Anna Pasichnyk, a Depositphotos contributor

I live in the suburbs of Kyiv and decided to stay here. I have children, parents, five cats, and a dog. I take pictures of my son and daughter because I am in pain. I am very scared, and so are my children. My son’s birthday is in 5 days. He’s been waiting to celebrate for the longest time, but instead, we’re all hiding in shelters from explosions. No one will come to his birthday party. He won’t have any gifts. We’re all just waiting for Victory Day!

This hell was created by humanity; it is dishonest, cruel, and painful. I continue to take photos because I can’t help but do it. I want to draw attention to Ukraine.

face of a frightened boy, a painted heart on the cheek in yellow-blue colors of the Ukrainian flag. Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a request for help to the world community. Children ask for peace

 

Maria Sibirtseva, Content Team Lead at Depositphotos

I was woken up by my Dad’s phone call at 5 a.m. on February 24th. Half-awake, I heard his voice saying “Maria, the war has begun. Please pack your things and come to our house. We need to stick together from now on”.

Although the news focused on Russia’s threats too often in the last few months, I couldn’t believe a full-scale war was possible in 2022. Without hurry, I took a shower, did my hair, and waited for my coffee to get ready as I checked the news. As there wasn’t a lot on the war yet, I still thought it was a joke. So, I called my parents to notify them that I’ll be waiting for a delivery to arrive at lunchtime, and will drive to their house afterwards. And then, sirens began sounding one by one.

All I managed to grab were two pairs of jeans and three sweaters, some jewelry, my passport, and gadgets. A few days later, tired of shuddering from explosions, I made a decision to leave Kyiv without any understanding of what was waiting for me on the road or in the future.

It took us six hours to leave the city of Kyiv. The traffic was so bad you couldn’t see where it ended, but you also couldn’t do anything about it. After 5 hours of not moving, we found out that the exit was blocked by tanks and severe battles nearby. We took a detour through residential areas that were trembling from explosions. The sounds of the explosions were so harsh that the car was shaking. We expected the worst, but the worst was yet to come.

Kyiv, February 2022, traffic gem

For the next 15 hours, we’ve had plenty of “adventures”. We drove down roads with tank muzzles pointed at us, with air raid alerts in fields (when we had nowhere to hide) and, of course, with people panicking on every corner.

30 hours passed since we left Kyiv, so we decided to take a nap in the car. We started falling asleep, but the sounds of shots were so close that our bodies were literally glued to the seats. In a matter of seconds, we were no longer tired or sleepy. We drove non-stop for the next 8 hours until we reached a border.

After crossing the border, we still had to drive for seven more hours, which in total turned out to be three days of terror and no sleep.

Since February 24th, I have not allowed myself to let the fear in. The instinct of self-preservation kept me vigorous until I realized I was safe. After arriving in Warsaw and sleeping for a couple of hours, I went to a coffee shop in the morning. I ordered my regular double cappuccino with oat milk, had a sip, and broke down in tears.

No, I didn’t feel sorry for myself at that moment. I felt unbearable pain for my country, its beautiful people, their children, and their grandparents. I will never understand how one country can attack another in our civilized world. Why does someone think that he has the right to deprive people of such basic things as a cup of hot coffee in the morning, or, even more so, of life?

The Depositphotos team and contributors share their stories about the war in Ukraine-8

Although two weeks have already passed since the beginning of the war, sometimes it feels like we still need to wake up so that this nightmare ends.

 

Daria Chaplyhina, outreach manager at Depositphotos

I was lucky to be born in Ukraine. Even if explosions are heard here. Even if they destroy cities. Even if families here are forced to separate. Even if I see people’s tears, and I cry myself. I assumed that my world was collapsing. However, that was not the case. I am safe among people who believe in the good and our future. I am safe among those who know how to empathize, unite, and help from the heart. Together with love, support, indifference, a sense of dignity, and justice – nothing is scary, and everything becomes possible.

War of Russia against Ukraine. Rescue service

Anonymously

The past few weeks have felt like an entire year! I decided to leave Kyiv after a phone call from my friend who is in the military. He told me I needed to take my children away from the capital. I packed our belongings in an hour and headed to the railway station with my husband, two children (four and eight years old), and my parents (70 years old).

When the train arrived, people collided with it; it was similar to a disaster movie, where it was everyone’s last chance to survive. It only got worse as my youngest son cried from fear; somewhere, I heard a parent screaming: “Where is my child?”

We got in, but not everyone did. Our trip lasted 10 hours (to Lviv). It was like being on a bus at rush hour! You couldn’t move your feet, it was boiling hot, and the toilet didn’t work because people were crammed in there.

Making camouflage nets in Uzhhorod

The next stage was our trip to Poland. My husband walked us to the huge line at the border and returned to Kyiv, not saying a word about what he was planning to do there. I’m still worried about him.

We managed to get on the train to Przemysl, but it turned out to be a train to Chelm. Panic and misunderstanding were everywhere. We traveled for 8 hours and took another train to Warsaw. Upon arrival at 3 a.m., I found out that the tickets to our next destination (Szczecin) were only available for 12 p.m. I realized that we had nothing left but to wait.

My worst nightmare was now a reality. I suddenly felt a lump in my throat, and I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t! I am responsible for my children and my retired parents. So I had to keep silent and come up with a plan of action on the go!

I genuinely believe that we will win this war, both on the battlefield and online! This will happen thanks to our fearlessness! We’re not afraid to express our opinions, and I am more than sure that Russian ships will sink deeper than anyone could ever imagine!

The Depositphotos team and contributors share their stories about the war in Ukraine-5

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