Since Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, the country has been in a state of flux. Ukrainians have had to recalibrate their idea of what normal is monthly, weekly, daily — or even hourly.
In the winter days immediately following the invasion, with a Russian column of armor and soldiers stalled less than 20 miles from the center of the capital Kyiv, "normal" meant a ghost town. Finding an open business, particularly one that wasn't a grocery store or pharmacy, was rare. One of the only places filled with activity was Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi, the central train station, as people fled westward.
During the summer months, at first glance, outward signs of the war were less apparent. "Normal" then meant bustling restaurants and bars — at least until curfew — and the mood throughout the city was jovial, as people celebrated Russian withdrawals and Ukrainian victories.
The summer's chorus of birds and street musicians gave way in the fall to more ominous sounds, like the steady purr of generators. Nowadays, Kyiv's winter "normal" consists of electricity, water and connectivity outages — both scheduled and spontaneous — loosely correlated with Russia's near-weekly drone and missile assaults on the city.
As Ukraine nears the one-year anniversary of the invasion, Kyiv's newest normal may be darker and colder, but life goes on: Volunteers sew camouflage netting and build power banks, soldiers go to church, and people visit Christmas markets, wearing headlamps to navigate darkened streets.
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