On February 21, Yuliia Chumak
and Alona Ksenofontova, two sisters living in Kyiv — both professionals in the Ukrainian film industry, one a production coordinator, the other a hair and makeup artist — decided to take a trip to Barcelona to celebrate Alona’s 34th birthday. They arrived in warm, sunny Spain and spent a few idyllic days shopping and touring the city sights, having a blast, snapping photos to send back to their parents and friends.
On the evening of the 23rd, they shut off their phones, chatted a bit about dressing up for Alona’s birthday on the 24th, then went to bed.
The next morning, when they switched their phones on again, they figured the flood of messages that had poured in while they slept were birthday congratulations.
That day, Vladimir Putin
’s Russian Army invaded Ukraine, sending tanks and troops across the northern border with Belarus,