AP PHOTOS: In the midst of the war in Ukraine, in search of moments of normalcy

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A Ukrainian National Guard soldier sits inside a tank near Kharkiv, Ukraine, Monday, May 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

PA

A young girl hugs a beloved gray toy cat at a reception center for the hundreds of civilians evacuated from a Mariupol steelworks after weeks of shelling by Russian forces. Nearby, a young man kisses his real gray cat, the eyes of both man and animal closed in relief at their escape.

Around 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers remained trapped in the Azovstal steelworks tunnels this week, including a service member of the Azov Special Forces Regiment who posed grimly for a photo, his sweatshirt sleeve pulled back back to reveal his missing left arm, blown off in battle against Russian forces.

Images from The Associated Press this week continued to reveal the horrors and occasional lighter moments of the war, now in its eighth week since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion.

A father took a picture of his sons, Maksym, 3, and Dmytro, 16, atop a destroyed Russian tank on Sunday on the outskirts of kyiv, again under Ukrainian control.

Police and volunteers have exhumed the bodies of civilians killed by Russian shelling in the village of Stepaky, near Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, where brutal fighting continues. An elderly woman entered a metro station used as a bomb shelter in Kharkiv, where sleeping bags and small tents lined the long underground platform along the train tracks.

An inconsolable widow draped in the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag wept over the coffin of her husband, Oleksandr Makhov, 36, a well-known Ukrainian journalist who was killed while fighting with his country’s volunteer forces, during his funeral at St. Michael’s Cathedral in kyiv.

War came dangerously close this week to a facility for the mentally and physically disabled in the village of Tavriiske, near the southeastern front line, where staff were trying to decide how to evacuate the 425 residents as the boom looms Artillery fire punctuated the air.

Yet there were moments of determined resilience and escape from war, if only briefly, as a young couple kissed in the quiet of a kyiv park.

Bonny J. Streater