Over 100 days of war: the stories from Ukraine that have moved and inspired the world

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·5-min read
Over 100 days of war: the stories from Ukraine that have moved and inspired the world
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It's been more than 100 days since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began. Since then we’ve witnessed horrendous scenes of conflict as Ukrainians fight for their country. But there's also been an unprecedented show of solidarity for Ukraine worldwide as well as examples on how ordinary heroes, humanity, beauty, love and even humour can arise during such dark times.

1. The comedian who became a statesman

In April 2019, comedian Vlodymyr Zelenskyy enjoyed a landslide victory in the Ukrainian presidential election. One of his main promises was to bring the war between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists to an end. When Russia began its full-scale invasion in February, some thought Zelenskyy would flee and be replaced with a pro-Russian politician. But he stayed and has been working day and night to get military help and support for the war-torn country. He has spoken with world leaders and parliaments and become a well-recognised statesman on the world stage.

It's now rare to see him smiling, joking and laughing like in this interview, where he was asked which world leader he enjoys speaking with the most.

2. Leaders visiting Kyiv

From the first day of the war, many leaders and politicians expressed their solidarity and support for Ukraine but only a few dared to personally travel to the warzone, especially during the first weeks of the conflict. The prime ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia went to meet Zelenskyy on 15 March to bring a message of solidarity from Europe. Since then, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson followed them.

3. Demonstrations for peace

People around the world have been showing their support, sending help to Ukraine, and demonstrating against the war. This happened even in Russia - where demonstrators could face repression for protesting.

Some people went much further: like the Italian man who went to Ukraine to rescue his wife’s family. Another Italian man drove 3,200-km to pick up Ukrainian refugees, and let's not forget the thousands of volunteers in neighbouring countries who took in refugees, helped them with administrative issues, or have just been there to make them feel welcome.

4. Love in the time of war

Some Ukrainians didn’t let the conflict stand in the way of celebrating their love. These wartime marriages brought a message of hope for a brighter future and of love triumphing during tragedies.

One of the most moving stories is Balandina’s. The 23-year-old nurse lost both her legs in a landmine explosion in eastern Ukraine on 27 March. But she still had her first dance with her husband in hospital.

5. Musicians fighting for their country

People found a way to show their support for Ukraine in the Eurovision Song Contest where the Ukrainian group Kalush Orchestra won thanks to votes from European viewers. The musicians then auctioned their trophy for €836,000 to help supply drones to the Ukrainian army.

The members of Antytila, a Ukrainian band whose music video back in 2018 featured then-comedian Zelenskyy, joined the Ukrainian army to fight for their countries. Their inspiring story made the English singer Ed Sheeran agree to perform at a benefit concert when they asked him to - and they even made a song together.

6. Foreign musicians helping to ease the pain

U2 frontman Bono and guitarist The Edge were invited by the Ukrainian president to go to Kyiv where they gave a surprise concert in a metro station on 8 May.

David Martello, an Italian pianist, travelled to the Ukrainian-Polish border in the early days of the war, to give a musical welcome to people fleeing their homes.

7. Unlikely heroes rising

Some unexpected heroes have appeared, including a kitchen cabinet and a ceramic rooster which became unlikely symbols of resistance.

It was inspired by the discovery in the Ukrainian town of Borodianka of a Vasylkiv cockerel (a ceramic jug in the shape of a rooster, produced in Ukraine) sitting on a kitchen cabinet untouched amid the ruins of a building.

In early March, a story went viral about a grandmother in Kyiv who claimed she had taken out a Russian drone by throwing a jar of pickled tomatoes at it. The unverified symbol of civilian creativity inspired Ukrainian resistance.

8. Patron, one of the smallest heroes

One of the cutest Ukrainian heroes is Patron, a landmine-detecting dog. On 8 May Ukrainian President Zelenskyy presented a medal to the four-legged soldier and his owner, to acknowledge their service. At that time, the Jack Russell terrier had detected more than 200 explosives.

They received the award at a news conference in Kyiv with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Patron barked and wagged his tail, while Trudeau patted his pockets as though looking for a dog treat.

9. Best friends not left behind

According to United Nations Refugee Agency, around 6,500,000 Ukrainians have fled the country since 24 February.

Many of them could not leave without their beloved pets, and we have seen pictures of refugees fleeing with their cats, dogs, and even turtles.

One such story was the evacuation of more than 120 golden retrievers from Odesa to Chișinău, the capital of Moldova.

10. Farmers taking on Russian tanks

Another unlikely symbol of Ukrainian resistance was the Ukrainian farmers who took on Russian tanks.

Someone even modified a well-known Russian cartoon to tell their stories.

The singing blue tractor dragging a Russian tank featuring the Z symbol behind it went viral.

In the original cartoon different coloured tractors pull wagons with different animals in them and viewers have to guess the animal by the sound it makes.

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