Photo by Stella Kalinina for The Verge

Anna* was looking forward to a trip to the US. But this isn’t what she had in mind.

Early this year, Anna was living in Kyiv, Ukraine, where she spent years building a life and career in the tech industry. When her boyfriend moved to the Los Angeles area last fall, she chose to stay behind — she, like millions of others, had plans for her future in her home country. Still, they video chatted every day and made plans to visit each other. Anna was set to fly to the US in March 2022 for her next visit.

But by the end of February, the world had changed completely. The trip to Los Angeles did happen — but not anywhere near as planned. After spending the night in a bomb shelter in the city center, Anna grabbed a backpack and her cat, escaping…

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