Ukraine First Lady Olena Zelenska speaks out about 'life under siege'

Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska slams US over refusal to impose a no-fly zone, insisting it is ‘encouraging Russia to commit atrocities’ – as she speaks to Vogue about her ‘life under siege’ and fight to keep her kids safe

  • Zelenska, 44, who is the wife of Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, 44, recently opened up to Vogue magazine about her ‘life under siege’
  • She also called on other countries – including America – to do more to help her nation
  • Ukraine and Russia are in the midst of a horrific battle which has seen more than 24,000 deaths
  • Russian president Vladimir Putin personally gave the order to invade Ukraine on February 24, 2022, unleashing an all-around attack on the country
  • Now, First Lady Zelenska has spoken out about how she and her two children – Kyrylo, nine, and Oleksandra 17, are surviving amid the war
  • She also slammed the U.S. and other countries that are part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for not doing more to ‘protect’ them
  • NATO Secretary General previously said a no-fly zone ‘could end in a full-fledged war, involving many more countries and causing much more human suffering’
  • Zelenska pleaded: ‘The democratic world must be united and give a tough response, thus showing that there is no place for killing civilians’

Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska has hit out at the U.S. over its refusal to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, claiming that the West’s failure to act is ‘encouraging Russia to commit atrocities.’

Zelenska, 44, who is the wife of Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, 44, recently opened up to Vogue magazine about her ‘life under siege,’ while calling on countries in the West – including America – to do more to help her nation.

The war between the Ukraine and Russia, which began when Russian President Vladimir Putin personally gave the order for his troops to invade on February 24, 2022, has resulted in more than 24,000 deaths, including many women and children. 

And now, First Lady Zelenska has spoken out about how she and her two children – Kyrylo, nine, and Oleksandra, 17, are surviving amid the war, while her husband takes to the battlefield to fight for his country. 

Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska has hit out at the U.S. over its refusal to impose a no-fly zone, claiming that the West’s failure to act is ‘encouraging Russia to commit atrocities’

Zelenska, 44, who is the wife of Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, 44, opened up to Vogue Magazine about her ‘life under siege.’ They are pictured together before the invasion

Zelenska (pictured with her husband before the war started) called on other countries – including America – to do more to help her nation

Ukraine and Russia are in the midst of a horrific war which has seen more than 24,000 deaths. Cemetery workers are pictured unloading bodies of civilians killed around Bucha on April 7

She also slammed the U.S. and other countries that are part of the Western defensive alliance North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for not doing more to ‘protect’ Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

‘When the Russian siege of Mariupol began, it became clear that Russia was not only firing rockets, but also bombing from the air,’ she told Vogue.

‘One of the bombs fell on a theater where more than a thousand people were hiding. Some three hundred people died there.

‘I know, for example, of a family that lost their son, their daughter, and a granddaughter. Only the grandparents and the eldest girl remained alive. How do they live after that? 

‘We asked to close the sky above us so that Ukrainians would not perish. But NATO considered this to be a direct conflict with Russia. So, can I say now that Russia alone is to blame for further deaths?’

President Zelenskyy has made numerous pleas to NATO to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine, previously telling the U.S. Congress that it was vital to stop Russia’s incessant airstrikes and that it could potentially save thousands of lives.

If America did enact a no-fly zone over Ukraine, it would mean that its military would be responsible for monitoring and preventing any aircraft from entering the area. 

Zelenska pressed on, insisting that the West’s refusal to impose a no-fly zone is not only allowing Russia to continue its violent acts of war, but is in fact encouraging Putin and his troops.

‘Give a tough answer to the actions of the aggressor or the aggressor will be encouraged to move,’ she said. 

‘Russia knows that the West will not cover the sky, and this fact encourages it to commit atrocities.

‘The democratic world must be united and give a tough response, thus showing that in the twenty-first century there is no place for killing civilians and encroaching on foreign territory.’

She did note that NATO has provided the country with weapons and refugee for Ukrainians who have escaped, but added that they ‘also need protection’ inside the country. 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg previously said that a no-fly zone over Ukraine ‘could end in a full-fledged war in Europe, involving many more countries and causing much more human suffering,’ according to CBS News.

He added: ‘So that’s the reason why we make this painful decision.’  

Speaking about the day that Russia invaded Ukraine, Zelenska recalled it initially feeling very much like a ‘normal day’, with her two kids returning from school and doing ‘usual household chores’ before everyone headed to bed.

President Zelenskyy (pictured fighting during the war) has made numerous pleas to NATO to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine

‘Russia knows that the West will not cover the sky, and this fact encourages it to commit atrocities,’ Zelenska said. She and her husband are pictured before the invasion

‘We had been tense. There had been a lot of talk, everywhere, about a possible invasion. But until the last minute it was impossible to believe that this would happen… in the twenty-first century? In the modern world?’ she said.

‘I woke up, sometime between 4 and 5 A.M., because of a clunk. I didn’t immediately realize it was an explosion. I didn’t understand what it could be. My husband wasn’t in bed. 

‘But when I got up, I saw him at once, already dressed, in a suit as usual (this was the last time I’d see him in a suit and a white shirt – from then on it was military).’

She recalled her husband telling her, ‘It started.’

‘I wouldn’t say there was panic. Confusion perhaps,’ she continued.

She then asked Zelenskyy: ‘What should we do with the children?’

‘Wait,’ he answered, ‘I’ll let you know. Just in case, gather essentials and documents.’ 

Over the first few days, Zelenska said her priority was taking care of her children.

‘At the beginning there was no time for emotions. It was necessary to take care of the children, their emotional states,’ she explained.

‘So I tried to be confident, smiling, energetic, explaining to them that, yes, it is necessary to go down to the basement and this is why you cannot turn on the light.

‘I tried to optimistically answer their question, “When will we see dad?” “Soon.” In those first days I hoped that we might be able to stay with him.


Zelenska recalled it being a ‘normal day’ before the invasion, with her two kids returning from school and doing ‘usual household chores.’ The family is pictured before the war started

She then recalled being woken from the sound of an explosion. A residential building destroyed during the war in the Kyiv region is pictured on March 3 


She recalled: ‘When I got up, I saw [my husband] already dressed, in a suit as usual (this was the last time I’d see him in a suit and a white shirt – from then on it was military).’ He is pictured before the invasion in January (left) and during the war in April (right)

‘But the president’s office had become a military facility and my children and I were forbidden to stay there.

‘We were ordered to move to a safe place – if, in Ukraine, it is possible to find a safe place now.’

As for what she told her two kids about the war, she said it was important for her to be honest with them.

‘There is no need to explain anything to children. They see everything, as does every child in Ukraine,’ she continued.

‘Surely, this is not something that children should see – but children are very honest and sincere. You can’t hide anything from them.

‘Therefore, the best strategy is the truth. So, we’ve discussed everything with my daughter and son.

‘I have tried to answer their questions. We talk a lot, because to say what hurts, to not remain silent within yourself – this is a proven psychological strategy. It works.’

A week after the war began, Zelenska recalled having a moment of realization that made her break down – when it occurred to her that she may never see her loved ones again.

‘About a week after the start of the war, I was phoning around to try to find out where my relatives were and whether they were alive,’ she recalled.

Over the first few days, Zelenska said her priority was taking care of her children. She is pictured with her daughter before the invasion

Now, the mother-of-two said she ‘constantly worries about her husband’ and is focused on ‘doing everything’ she can to ‘keep her children safe’

She has remained in the country, but has only had contact with the President (pictured on April 4) over the phone

‘And in one moment, I realized that I didn’t know if I would ever see them again – those I love, my beloved people!

‘That was probably the first time I cried – the first time I let go of my emotions. I couldn’t stand it.’ 

Now, the mother-of-two said she ‘constantly worries about her husband’ and is focused on ‘doing everything’ she can to ‘keep her children safe.’

She has remained in the country, but has only had contact with the President over the phone. 

‘We all have one great desire: to see peace. And I, like every mother and wife, constantly worry about my husband and do everything to keep my children safe,’ she added.

As for what gives her hope, she said ‘her family’ is what fuels her to keep going.

‘My family – just like every Ukrainian – and my compatriots: incredible people who organized to help the army and help each other,’ she concluded.

‘Now all Ukrainians are the army. Everyone does what they can. There are stories about grandmothers who bake bread for the army just because they feel this call. 

‘They want to bring victory closer. That is what Ukrainians are like. We all hope for them. We hope for ourselves.’ 

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