Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska gave her own emotional account of the war in Ukraine against Russia in a new interview with Vogue, published on Tuesday, July 26. As her husband President Volodymyr Zelenskyy continues to fight and lead Ukraine, she spoke about the toll that it took on the family for him to spend so much time away from them. “He’s having a much harder time in this regard. He suffers. And then my kids do, too, because they can’t see each other,” she told Vogue.
While it’s undoubtedly been a difficult time for the first family during Ukraine’s war against Russia, Zelenskyy spoke about how his family tries to lead. “For women and children, my wife being here sets an example. I believe that she plays a very powerful role for Ukraine, for our families, and for our women,” he told the outlet. “Like any ordinary man, I have been worried sick about [my family], about their safety. I didn’t want them to be put in danger… I’ve wanted to hug them so much. I’ve wanted to be able to touch them.”
The profile also discussed Zelenska’s initial reluctance to step into the spotlight. As Ukraine’s battle against Russia continues, she’s also been a vocal advocate for other countries sending aid. At the beginning of the war, she released a statement detailing the many atrocities happening in her home country, including children hiding in bomb shelters. She has encouraged people around the globe to speak out against Russia. “Don’t be quiet! Tell them that Putin is threatening to start a nuclear war, and if he does, there will be no safe place in the world anymore,” she wrote in a social media post.
More recently, Zelenska addressed the United States Congress to ask for them to send weapons so that Ukrainians can defend themselves, months after her husband had also made a speech to Congress. She made an emotional appeal, sharing that parents just want their kids to be safe amid the war. “We want every father and every mother to be able to tell their child go to sleep peacefully, there will be no more airstrikes, no more missile strikes. Is this too much to wish for?” she said.
Throughout the war, Zelenskyy has urged leaders to send their support to Ukraine, and he’s made public appearances at high-profile events to draw attention to the battle against Russia, such as a surprise appearance at the Grammy Awards in April.