For weeks, a Russian invasion had been feared, but once the sweeping attack began last week, hitting seemingly every corner of Ukraine, the war became unavoidably tangible for its people, a hovering cloud of darkness that once seemed unimaginable in the post-Cold War era.
Hearing the booms of missile explosions and air attacks, and reports of battles that had killed both civilians and soldiers, some vowed to fight the intruders however they could. Most also realized, though, that life defying Russia’s overwhelming might was likely to be hazardous.
In parts of Ukraine, people cleaned out grocery stores. They rushed the A.T.M.s to get their savings while they could. Many thousands waited in impossible lines for bus tickets or sat in their cars in monstrous traffic jams, seeking to head west, to NATO-protected lands. Others took up arms in volunteer militias or donated blood to their fellow citizens.
As Ukrainian forces waged intense battles for Kyiv, the capital, Kharkiv and other major cities, people waited to see what might come of an escalating war, Western sanctions against Russia and sputtering diplomacy. Photographers with The New York Times and other news organizations are throughout Ukraine and following the flow of refugees across Europe, providing a look at a populace coping with the uncertainty and fear of a military invasion.
This gallery contains graphic images.
This gallery contains graphic images.
Anton Tabunshchyk, a member of the regional parliament in Mykolaiv, with a Russian Tigr infantry mobility vehicle that was destroyed in Saturday’s fighting. Ukrainian forces on Sunday repelled a Russian attack on Mykolaiv, driving back the assault beyond the city limits and slowing Russia’s advance west along the Black Sea.
A woman is ushered to relative safety by Ukrainian soldiers. A steady stream of civilians tried to make their way out of Irpin, near Kyiv, while being shelled by Russians.
Dasha Zhomer and her daughter, Alice, refugees from Cherkasy, Ukraine, wait for a bus in Medyka after crossing the Polish border.
A Roma refugee from Ukraine receives a beverage from a volunteer at the humanitarian aid center at Nyugati train station in central Budapest. While the Roma family had to show their passports to police officers, on the right, before being allowed to receive food, other Ukrainians were not required to show any documentation. Each Roma child only received one beverage and one sandwich while the other refugees were offered as much as they want.
Refugees in Palanca, Moldova, on the border of Ukraine.
Fellow soldiers carried the coffin of Senior Sgt. Yevhen Verveyko, 27, of the Ukrainian army, who was killed fighting against Russian forces.
Anzhelika Verveyko is comforted by a friend during the funeral ceremony for her husband, Sergeant Verveyko, who was killed in an artillery strike on his position north of Kyiv on Feb. 27.
Refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine walk up stairs to catch a train in Przemysl, Poland.
A Ukrainian soldier oiling his weapon at a base in Kyiv.
Ihor Mazhayev, 54, in the rubble of his home, which destroyed by Russian shelling in Markhalivka, southwest of Kyiv.
People trying to escape from Irpin, a city near Kyiv, sheltered under a destroyed bridge.
Crowded trains headed west, carrying refugees away from the fighting.
Ukrainian medics draped the grave of their fallen colleague, Valentyna Pushych, in Kyiv.
Thousands of refugees fleeing Kyiv arrived at the train station in Lviv, a city near the border with Poland.
A Ukrainian soldier stands guard at a barricade near Kyiv.
The streets of Mykolaev were virtually empty on Friday, with fear of a Russian attack coming at any time.
Volunteer fighters receiving weapons training as rockets fly overhead in Kyiv.
Part of a rocket landed in the middle of the road by a bus station in Kyiv.
Desperate Ukrainian families trying to board a train heading west out of Kyiv toward Lviv.
Ukrainian families running across train tracks to get to the next Westbound train in Kyiv.
People removing personal belongings from a burning house after being shelled in the city of Irpin, outside Kyiv.
A residential building damaged by shelling in the city of Chernihiv.
A bus riddled with machine gun fire in Kyiv.
Ukrainian children riding an evacuation train through Kyiv as it travels west toward Lviv.
A residential area after shelling in Mariupol.
Serhii, father of teenager Iliya, weeps beside his son’s lifeless body lying on a stretcher at a maternity hospital converted into a medical ward in Mariupol.
A Ukrainian soldier’s campsite at the front line, northeast of Kyiv.
A solitary Ukrainian warship off the coast of Odessa, amid rumors of an approaching Russian flotilla.
A detainee was led out of Kyiv’s main train station by Ukrainian security personnel as attacks against Ukrainian targets continue, and Ukrainian and Russian forces battled on the outskirts of the city.
Damage from a rocket strike at the main train station in Kyiv.
Ukrainian families scrambled to get on trains traveling west out of Kyiv toward Lviv.
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine during a news conference in Kyiv on Thursday. “We have a special people, an extraordinary people,” he said.
A train station in Radymno, Poland, where many refugees start their journey deeper into Poland after getting some rest at a reception center set up at a shopping mall.
Statues and monuments of cultural significance around Lviv were wrapped with foam and plastic sheeting, to protect them against possible bombardment.
Taria, 27, in her tent where she is living with her two children and other Ukrainian families below ground in a subway station. Many of them have been there for about a week as Russian and Ukrainian forces fight on the outskirts of Kyiv.
A Ukrainian mother tends to her newborn in a maternity ward in the basement of a hospital in Kyiv.
A building of the Karazin Kharkiv National University after shelling in Kharkiv.
Police officers remove the body of a passer-by killed in an airstrike that hit Kyiv’s main television tower the day before.
A residential building, which locals said was damaged by recent shelling, in the separatist-controlled town of Horlivka in the Donetsk region.
Hundreds of women and children were crammed into the tunnels of a Lviv train station as they waited to board evacuation trains out of Ukraine.
Dima Kurganov, 39, said goodbye to his wife and two children before they left on a train to Poland.
Ukrainian refugees waiting at the main hall of a train station in Przemysl, Poland.
People were blessed by a priest during Mass on Ash Wednesday at the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Cathedral in Lviv.
The headquarters of “Moldova for Peace,” a working group under the auspices of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Government of the Republic of Moldova, in Chisinau. The group’s volunteers are helping refugees coming from Ukraine.
The Ukrainian village of Dachne, north of Odessa, as Russian forces escalated attacks on civilian targets.
Volunteers put sandbags around the regional administration building in Vinnytsia.
Ukrainian security forces guarding Maidan Square in Kyiv.
Grigore Josan and his wife, Gheorgjina, have been hosting 11 members of a Ukrainian family for a week in Causeni, Moldova.
A projectile hit the main radio and television tower in Kyiv.
Emergencies personnel carry the body out of the damaged local city hall of Kharkiv, destroyed as a result of Russian troop shelling.
Medical workers move a patient in a basement of a maternity hospital converted into a medical ward and used as a bomb shelter in Mariupol.
Service members of pro-Russian troops in uniforms without insignia are seen atop of a tank in the separatist-controlled settlement of Buhas, in the Donetsk region.
Steel barricades used to obstruct tanks and other armored vehicles being welded in Odessa, before being distributed throughout the city.
Refugees from Ukraine after crossing the border in Medyka, Poland.
Tents for refugees to rest after crossing the border in Palanca, Moldova.
Refugees resting in a tent in Palanca.
Ilona Koval, center, the choreographer for the Ukrainian national figure skating team, fleeing Ukraine with her daughter, left, and a family friend.
Worshipers attending a service in the Kyiv Monastery of the Caves.
The monastery, parts of which are almost 1,000 years old, is one of the holiest sites for Eastern Orthodox Christianity in Ukraine and Russia.
Ukrainian volunteers filing into a bunker on Monday as a sirens warned of a possible incoming attack at a base in Kyiv where volunteers and security forces are readied for war.
Ukrainian volunteers getting ready for combat at a base in Kyiv where they receive rapid training in military disciplines ranging from intelligence to the use of weapons.
A satellite image showing a military convoy along a highway near Ivankiv in northern Ukraine.
A Russian armored personnel carrier burning next to an unidentified soldier’s body during a fight with the Ukrainian armed forces in Kharkiv.
Ukraine’s former first lady, Maryna Poroshenko, serving food to Ukrainian volunteers.
Ukrainian women tending to their sick children in a basement shelter of the Okhmadet Childrens Hospital as Russian troops battle Ukrainian forces in and around Kyiv.
Tending to sick infants in the basement shelter.
Sasha Gonsharova, 38, caring for her eight-month-old son, who has anemia.
Volunteers in Vinnytsia, Ukraine, collecting and organizing supplies donated to Ukraine’s military and to people displaced by the Russian invasion.
Long lines of cars and trucks waiting to enter Romania from Moldova.
Civilian volunteers sorting empty bottles to be used for Molotov cocktails in a parking lot in Dnipro, Ukraine.
People stand in line in front of a supermarket while smoke billows over the town of Vasylkiv just outside Kyiv after overnight Russian strikes hit an oil depot.
Loading empty bottles to be used for Molotov cocktails in Dnipro.
Several hundred people who fled Ukraine huddled in small groups on Saturday at the train station in Zahony, Hungary, trying to figure out their next move.
Refugees from Lviv, Ukraine, waiting for their further journey after crossing the border in Medyka, Poland.
The Ukrainian flag is raised over a newly established checkpoint on Sunday in Hushchyntsi, Ukraine.
Local men digging a bunker and building a checkpoint at the edge of their village in Hushchyntsi.
Worshipers at morning services at St. Paraskeva Orthodox Church in Kalynivka, Ukraine.
The Sunday service in Kalynivka, in central Ukraine.
Emergency workers at the scene after a residential building was hit by missiles in Kyiv.
A burned vehicle at the scene of a fierce pre-dawn battle between Ukrainian and Russian forces in Kyiv.
Ukrainian emergency workers outside a residential building in Kyiv that was hit by a missile.
Ukrainian volunteers getting a briefing before being deployed to fight Russian troops in Kyiv.
A Ukrainian nurse, Iryna Salujan, drawing blood from Slava Kamshyshov, 50, as Ukrainians spent hours in line to donate blood for wounded soldiers and civilians in Kyiv.
Volunteers hand-tied camouflage netting for use by the military in Kalynivka.
A Russian tank destroyed by the Ukrainian forces on the side of a road in Lugansk region.
An evacuee from Ukraine crying as she arrived with relatives in the Polish village of Medyka, at the border crossing with Ukraine. More than 100,000 Ukrainians had entered Poland as of Saturday.
Cars lined up for nearly two miles to pick up family members from Ukraine who had entered Poland.
An employee of the Kalynivka road service removed a road sign on Saturday. Workers around Ukraine were ordered to remove road signs to complicate navigation for Russian troops.
Svetlana Akimova, 82, on Saturday in a parking garage where she had been seeking shelter for the past day amid heavy fighting outside her apartment building in Kyiv.
Demonstrators confronting the Russian police during an antiwar protest in Moscow on Saturday.
A member of a locally organized security patrol inspecting a bus shelter while on the lookout for Russian saboteurs in Khomutyntsi, in central Ukraine.
The body of a Russian soldier next to an armored vehicle that Ukrainian soldiers said was Russian, in Kharkiv.
Ukrainian soldiers at the entrance to Kharkiv, in the shadow of huge blue and yellow letters spelling the city’s name.
A Ukrainian military position outside Kharkiv.
Ukrainian emergency services officers in Kharkiv trying to remove the body of a rocket they said had been fired by Russian forces on Friday.
A residential building was hit by missiles in Kyiv on Friday.
Cleaning up debris after a residential building was struck by missiles in Kyiv.
The remnants of a downed aircraft in Kyiv.
Social media videos and news footage from Friday depicted the scope of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the toll it was taking on its citizens.
People seeking safety from bombings in subway cars and in the halls of a subway station in Kharkiv.
Ukrainians leaving the Polish village of Medyka on a minibus after crossing the Ukraine-Poland border on Friday.
Ludmyla Viytovych with her daughters Sofia and Solomea at a makeshift reception center at the train station in Przemysl, Poland. Mrs. Viytovych was traveling toward Vienna, where her family lives.
Refugees from Ukraine awaiting transportation upon their arrival in Medyka at the pedestrian border crossing.
Military volunteers loading magazines with ammunition at a weapons storage facility after the Ukrainian government announced it would arm civilians to resist the Russian invasion.
Military volunteers receiving weapons in Fastiv.
National Guard members in Kyiv.
The aftermath of a strike on a military airport on Thursday in Chuguyev, near Kharkiv.
Families boarding evacuation trains in Kramatorsk on Thursday evening, bound for Kyiv and Lviv, the largest city in western Ukraine.
The remnants of a munition piercing an apartment near Kharkiv.
Lining up to withdraw cash in Severodonetsk.
Video: Families fleeing Thursday’s attack in Kyiv were stuck in traffic for miles on the capital’s longest avenue, as they tried to escape the advancement of Russian troops.
Ukrainian military vehicles on the side of the road outside Severodonetsk.
Covering a body after bombings in Chuguiv.
Packing up belongings from an apartment to move farther from shelling in Kramatorsk.
Praying at St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery on Thursday in Kyiv.
Russian attacks damaged radar arrays and other equipment at a Ukrainian military site outside Mariupol.
Waiting for trains out of the city at the main station in Kramatorsk.
Dusk in Kyiv on Thursday, as Russian forces were advancing on the city.