Odessa’s summer of war

Summer beach days are off-limits in Ukraine’s seaside city of Odessa. The threat of sea mines and fears that packed beaches could attract Russian shelling mean that a few hours of sunning or a dip in the Black Sea is illegal.

But the draw is too strong for many residents starved for normalcy.

“It’s happiness,” said Olya, 49, a vocalist who was spending the day at the beach with friends.

People enjoy a day at an Odessa beach on July 22.

Men work out Aug. 4 in an area by the shore called the "Path of Health."

A restaurant in Odessa's Arcadia district looks out on the Black Sea.

A painting set up at the shore shows a Ukrainian soldier and a fictional scene of a Crimean bridge being blown up.

Police officers patrol the beach on Aug. 4.

As police officers head to the shore, some beachgoers roll up their towels and scurry off the sand. Seven people have been blown up by mines, one officer said, though most incidents have been at a beach resort outside the city.

It’s not only the sun that is the lure. With his work shifts cut during the war, Serhii Shalugin supplements his income by collecting mussels for local restaurants, dodging police patrols along the way. He shrugs off the risk of mines.

“You can’t separate Odessans from the sea,” he said.

Serhii Shalugin collects mussels from the Black Sea on Aug. 3.

A man swims despite the threat of sea mines.

Families wade in the water along an Odessa beach.

People run on a street set up for runners and bicyclists.

Morning on the "Path of Health" on Aug. 4.

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Anastacia Galouchka contributed to this report. Editing by Chloe Coleman and Reem Akkad. Photos by Wojciech Grzedzinski.