Earlier in the war in Ukraine, after Russian mishaps and a strong Ukrainian resistance forced a Russian retreat from the area surrounding the capital, Kyiv, we soon saw evidence of a return to normalcy in the city. People returning to their homes, businesses reopening, foreign dignitaries visiting and so forth.
Now, the Russians have been driven from the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, and in some ways, that pattern is repeating itself. People are returning to the city or emerging from shelters, and trying to return to something like life before the war began.
But as these photos make clear, the similarity ends there. While the battle for Kyiv was fought in the towns and small cities that surround the capital, the battle for Kharkiv was felt intensely inside the city itself. So in this case, returning home is a very different proposition. The rebuilding will take a long time. The trauma will be felt more deeply. And anything like “normalcy” may be a long way away.