It's been one year since Russia invaded Ukraine

The Ukrainian resistance, backed by American-led western support, was fierce. Russia’s plans for invasion and the fall of Ukraine were shattered.

It's been one year since Russia invaded Ukraine
Kin Cheung / AP

The clouds of war gathered in January of last year, as tens of thousands of Russian troops amassed near the Ukrainian border.

And then one year ago on this night — the storm broke. 

As the war began, Scripps News came to Poland and then Lviv, Ukraine — just across the border. 

With air space closed and Russian forces moving in, a steady stream of Ukrainians, more than 100,000m were rushing to safety. 

The women were forced to leave their men behind to stay and fight.  

IRINA DIDUK: Putin start war in our country and we can’t understand what he will do. 

SCRIPPS NEWS' JASON BELLINI: You don’t know what he’s going to do. 

DIDUK: And I think you also don’t know what he will do. And no one know because it’s crazy, man. 

Then just as quickly — panic hardened into resolve. 

The Ukrainian resistance, backed by American-led western support, was fierce. Russia’s plans for a swift invasion and the fall of Ukraine were shattered. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy recorded a video on the streets of the capital, refusing to surrender, refusing to evacuate, saying "we are here."

Kateryna Titowa with her family

Hostomel, Bucha, Irpin: the Ukrainian family that survived all three

A year ago Kateryna Titowa, like many of her neighbors in Hostomel, saw out her window a critical moment of the war.


Across Ukraine, everyday people found their own frontlines and took a stand. An orphanage director in Kherson hid 50 children from the invaders. A citizen war crimes investigator in Kharkiv dodged Russian shells to gather evidence. 

The spirit of resistance was everywhere. 

Back in Russia, President Vladimir Putin was gloating. He staged a rally three weeks into the war, trying to drum up domestic support. But later that month NATO reported up to 15,000 Russian soldiers were already dead. 

Zelenskyy said thousands of Ukrainians had already been killed, including hundreds who were sheltering at a theater in Mariupol where "children" was written outside the building. 

"Indeed this is genocide. The elimination of the whole nation and the people," Zelenskyy said. 

Outside the capital in Bucha, retreating Russian forces executed civilians. President Joe Biden formally accused Russia of war crimes in early April — then "genocide" days later. 

We later met families there lining up for DNA tests to try to determine if their loved ones were among the dead. President Zelenskyy witnessed the aftermath in Bucha firsthand. More powerful weapons from the west came more swiftly. 

Backed by U.S. intelligence, Ukraine notched meaningful victories like the sinking of Russia’s flagship, the Moskva. 

A tank gunner named Lion is pictured.

Inside the secret tank repair battalion near Ukraine's front lines

Old tanks play a critical role in Ukraine's battle against Russia, and a tank gunner is putting faith in repairs as they wait for better NATO tanks.


Russia fought back against civilians, which we witnessed first-hand in places like Borodyanka. People living there told us Russians shot anyone trying to rescue the injured. 

Ukrainian ingenuity has shown through in the people we met, sending drones to the frontlines to pinpoint Russian positions, acting as spotters for Ukrainian artillery. 

"Our artillery software is being used 90-95% of our artillery guys — armed forces I mean. So you can imagine how much damage that has caused," said Oleksiy Savchenko, co-founder of the Ukrainian drone squad. 

This past year has exposed the pain caused by Putin’s decision to invade and the strength of the Ukrainian people. 

From the new mothers who gave birth behind barriers, in the basements of maternity wards; to the young chairman of Ukraine’s railway, dedicated to keeping the trains running on time across the country’s 16,000 miles of track. But always — resilience. 

We met a young man left disfigured when Russians fired missiles into a resort, where he was celebrating his college graduation. 

He was lucky to have survived at all — 22 people died. 

We met the sniper dubbed Ukraine’s "Joan of Arc" and the people fighting to save animals; from horses to dogs and cats. 

All signs of a continuing humanity — in the face of horror.