Olena Zelenska 'hasn't seen husband since invasion began' as she opens up about war

12 April 2022, 08:45 | Updated: 12 April 2022, 09:16

President Zelenskyy's wife Olena has spoken about the war to Vogue
President Zelenskyy's wife Olena has spoken about the war to Vogue. Picture: Instagram/Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Ukraine's first lady Olena Zelenska has opened up about life during the war, saying she has had to hide her true emotions for the sake of her children and that she worries "constantly" about her husband's safety.

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As the war broke out, the wife of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy recalled being woken by a "clunk" in the early hours of the morning.

"I didn't immediately realise it was an explosion," she told Vogue.

She said she got up and saw her husband already dressed in a suit - adding this was the last time he wore one, and has been in military clothing every day since then.

"It's started," he said.

She described the toll the war has taken on her emotionally and said that it was "futile" to try and shield her children from the reality of war.

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Mrs Zelenska said that, at the start of the war, "there was no time for emotions".

She said she needed to put on a brave face for her children, aged 17 and nine.

It was not until a week into the war, when she was phoning around her relatives to see which of them were still alive, that "I let go of my emotions".

"That was probably the first time I cried," she told the magazine.

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She said she worried "constantly" about her husband, whom she is currently only able to communicate with by phone.

"Like every mother and wife, [I] constantly worry about my husband and do everything to keep my children safe," she said.

Of Ukrainian children, she said: "They see everything."

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She said there was "no need to explain" anything to them and said trying to shield them from the realities of war was futile.

Instead, she said, she tried to answer her children's questions truthfully and was determined not to "remain silent within yourself".

She said it was a "proven psychological strategy" to "say what hurts".

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Mrs Zelenska said Putin's goal to "divide us, to shatter us" was his "fatal mistake".

"It is impossible to do this with Ukrainians," she said.

"When one of us is tortured, raped, or killed, we feel that we all are being tortured, raped, or killed."

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She urged people from around the world not to let the war become "statistics".

"Continue going to protests, continue to demand that your government takes action," she said.

"Ukrainians are the same as you."

She added that all Ukrainians "have one great desire".

"To see peace."