Recently recapturing Lyman, a Russian bastion in northern Donetsk, Ukrainian forces have made some major advancements. These advancements – primarily along the strategic Dnipro River, towns in the Donetsk territory as well as the entire Kharkiv region – come at odds with the recent “accession treaties” or illegal annexations signed by Vladimir Putin last week. 

Considered the largest forcible territory takeover in Europe since World War II in which Putin has proclaimed that the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions would be Russian territory “forever,” Ukrainian troops have been busy liberating territory as the war continues. Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy pushed back on Putin’s words by announcing a fast-track Nato membership application in a video address from Kyiv.

After intense and brutal fighting throughout the Kharkiv region, IMAGO’s partners capturing daily life in the liberated towns reveal a resilience and fervor to return to normalcy despite the ubiquitous relics of war: tanks and missiles covering roads, spray-painted Z’s (the Z is used as a symbol for Russia,) burial sites and destroyed infrastructure. As Kharkiv slowly comes back to life, take a look at IMAGO’s coverage from on the ground.

See also IMAGO’s full curated collection and Picture Desk coverage from Kharkiv. 

IMAGO/NurPhoto
IMAGO / NurPhoto / Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy | Izium in the Kharkiv Region after liberation from Russian occupation. 15 September, 2022.
IMAGO/ZUMA Wire
IMAGO / Zuma Wire / Ashley Chan | Izyum, Ukraine: Victoria, 8 is seen playing in a park in Izyum after being liberated from Russian occupation. 19 September, 2022.
IMAGO/NurPhoto
IMAGO / NurPhoto / Oleksandr Khomenko | The Town Of Balakliya, Liberated From Russian Troops People gathered in the city center to receive humanitarian aid. 13 September, 2022.
IMAGO/ZUMA Wire
IMAGO / Zuma Wire / Ashley Chan | This police station has been used to detain Ukrainian civilians during the period of Russian occupation. Ukrainian troops have made advancement to the east of the Oskil River in Kupiansk, a city in the Kharkiv region. 26 September, 2022.
IMAGO/ZUMA Wire
IMAGO / Zuma Wire / Ashley Chan | Investigators wearing protective gear are seen exhuming bodies with shovels. A mass burial site was found in the outskirts of the eastern Ukrainian city, Izyum, Kharkiv region which has been liberated from Russian occupation two weeks ago. 19 September, 2022.
IMAGO/ZUMA Wire
IMAGO / Zuma Wire / Oleksii Chumachenko | Izyum, Ukraine: Victoria, 8 is seen playing in a park in Izyum after being liberated from Russian occupation. 19 September, 2022.
IMAGO/ZUMA Wire
IMAGO / Zuma Wire / Ashley Chan | Izium in the Kharkiv Region after liberation from Russian occupation. 17 September, 2022.
IMAGO/ZUMA Wire
IMAGO / Zuma Wire / Oleksii Chumachenko | Local residents wait for humanitarian aid in the main square in the town of Balakliia, recently liberated by Ukrainian Armed Forces, in Kharkiv region. 20 September, 2022.
IMAGO/ZUMA Wire
IMAGO / Zuma Wire / Oleksii Chumachenko | Local people sit on the bench in the town of Izium, recently liberated by Ukrainian Armed Forces, in Kharkiv region. 19 September, 2022.
IMAGO/Ukrinform
IMAGO / Ukrinform / Vyacheslav Madiyevsky | An artilleryman performs a combat mission in the north of Kharkiv Region, north-eastern Ukraine. 10 October, 2022.
IMAGO/Ukrinform
IMAGO / Ukrinform / Vyacheslav Madiyevsky | A corridor is pictured inside a school destroyed as a result of shelling by Russian troops in Izium which was liberated from Russian invaders, Kharkiv Region, northeastern Ukraine. 19 September, 2022.
IMAGO/Ukrinform
IMAGO / Ukrinform / Vyacheslav Madiyevsky | Sandbags are seen on the premises of the Palace of Youth and Teenagers Zaliznychnyk , which Russian troops looted and turned into a defense facility, in the liberated city of Izyum, Kharkiv Region, north-eastern Ukraine. 20 September, 2022.
IMAGO/Ukrinform
IMAGO / Ukrinform / Vyacheslav Madiyevsky | Sandbags are seen on the premises of the Palace of Youth and Teenagers Zaliznychnyk , which Russian troops looted and turned into a defense facility, in the liberated city of Izyum, Kharkiv Region, north-eastern Ukraine. 20 September, 2022.
IMAGO/ZUMA Wire
IMAGO / Zuma Wire / Oleksii Chumachenko | Izium, recently liberated by Ukrainian Armed Forces, in Kharkiv region. 19 September, 2022.
IMAGO/ZUMA Wire
IMAGO / Zuma Wire / Ukrainian Presidential Press Office | Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and Head of the Office of the President Andriy Yermak take a walking tour of the liberated city of Izium, Kharkiv region. 14 September, 2022.
IMAGO/NurPhoto
IMAGO / NurPhoto / Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy | Izium in Kharkiv Region after liberation from Russian occupiers. 15 September, 2022.