I am sitting in a hotel room at the end of a long day, on assignment for the New York Times in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city only 30km from the Russian border. The city suffered relentless shelling, missile and airstrikes over the past 11 months, but mostly in the first six months of the war. The days are long, dark and very cold, and I am dressed like an onion, wearing six layers. Sirens sound often throughout the day warning us to take shelter.
This is my fifth trip to Ukraine in the past 12 months. On February 25 last year, the day after Russia launched its invasion, it was a real frenzy, chaotic and scary. There was constant artillery fire, and you could hear the sound of strikes on the outskirts of Kyiv where I was based then. It was a dramatic time.