An elderly woman draped in snow. A child peering out a train window into the unknown. A pair of hands bound. From Jan. 25 to April 8, AP photographer Vadim Ghirda took some of the most recognizable images of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
A woman and child peer out of the window of a bus as they leave Sievierodonetsk, the Luhansk region, in eastern Ukraine, Feb. 24, 2022.
Ghirda spent his earliest days in Ukraine's eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as tensions rose over warnings that Russia planned to invade Ukraine. Russia, at the time, strenuously denied such plans and then did invade on Feb. 24.
A Ukrainian serviceman, seen through a camouflage mesh, stands at a front line position in the Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine, Jan. 29, 2022.
The first days of the invasion found Ghirda in bombarded Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, crouching in the snow next to a dead soldier and a destroyed Russian rocket launcher.
The body of a serviceman is coated in snow next to a destroyed Russian military multiple rocket launcher vehicle on the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine, Feb. 25, 2022.
Then he was on to Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, to document the frantic crush of people trying to leave the country while they still could. His camera captured a serene-looking baby in the middle of the anxious crowd. Ghirda was there again as the flight from the capital region later became more dangerous, photographing an elderly woman clutching her head after crossing the Irpin River under a bridge that had been destroyed.
An elderly lady gets assisted while crossing the Irpin river, under a bridge that was destroyed, as civilians flee the town of Irpin, Ukraine, March 5, 2022.
He also documented some of the horrors found in the northern Ukrainian town of Bucha, where Ukrainian officials say Russian soldiers committed war crimes before withdrawing.
A man and child ride on a bicycle as bodies of civilians lie in the street in the formerly Russian-occupied Kyiv suburb of Bucha, Ukraine, April 2, 2022.
Amid the destruction of war, Ghirda found gentle moments. A woman with a dozen dogs at a sunny triage point after leaving Irpin. A teenager rubbing noses with her soldier boyfriend, a suitcase nearby.
Bogdana, 17, rubs noses with her boyfriend Ivan, 19, in Brovary, Ukraine, March 20, 2022.
A soldier trying to avoid being bitten by an ostrich in one of the more unusual evacuation attempts of the war, at a zoo on the outskirts of Kyiv.
A Ukrainian serviceman tries to avoid being bitten by an ostrich at a heavily damaged private zoo as soldiers and volunteers attempted to evacuate the surviving animals to safety in the village of Yasnohorodka, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, March 30, 2022.
He also found flowers placed on a charred Ukrainian military vehicle on April 1, a sign of mourning but also, perhaps, one of spring as well.
Flowers are placed on a Ukrainian military armored fighting vehicle destroyed during fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces outside Kyiv, Ukraine, April 1, 2022.
“What I remember is being in awe at how people cope with this and try to not leave a soul behind, be it hamster, cat or huge dog. And, leaving on a crowded train home with super heavy suitcases, I thought how would I feel if a photographer would now stare at me through his lens as I struggle," Ghirda said.
An elderly lady sits in a wheelchair after being evacuated from Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, March 8, 2022.