Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska has spoken out for the first time about how Russia’s war on the country has negatively affected her relationship with her husband, President Volodimir Zelenskyy.
According to Zelenska, she is unable to see her husband for long periods and said it was ‘not normal’ that their kids could only speak to their father on the phone.
Zelsnky and Zelenska refused to leave Ukraine when Russian troops marched across the border on February 24 and have instead remained in Kyiv to lead the war effort, showing resolute defiance of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
But she says the pair are only allowed to see each other for shott periods of time to ensure their security as Putin has placed a price tag on their heads.
‘This isn’t normal. It’s not a normal relationship when children cannot see their father and have to talk to him on the phone. So our relationship is on pause just as it is for all Ukrainians,’ Zelenska told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview aired Tuesday, June 28.
‘We… are waiting to be reunited, to be together again, to spend evenings together, to talk to the children about their things.’
The pair were unable to see each other for the first two months of the war as Russian forces were attacking Kyiv.
Zelensky remained in his office in Kyiv surrounded by his deputies and security advisers to lead the war effort, while Zelenska and their children Oleksandra, 17, and Kyrylo, nine, where carried away to an unknown location.
Once Putin’s troops retreated from Kyiv and the fighting continued in the eastern Donbas region, the couple reunited for a brief time.
They are still unable to see each other regularly, ‘but at least I can physically feel him next to me’, Zelenska said.
In a previous interview with Good Morning America, Zelenska opened up about the pair’s forced separation when the invasion began and discussed her husband’s impressive character in the face of war.
‘We say goodbye to each other the very first day. And over the next two months, we only had a chance to speak via the phone. I’m really proud of the fact that the world has uncovered the true identity of my husband,’ Zelenska said.
Zelenska, 44, added that while it was easier to explain to her 17-year-old daughter what is going on in the country, her nine-year-old son questioned where his father was.
‘I believe that the children clearly realised everything from the very first moment,’ she said.
‘My son, well, he tried to keep himself brave enough and courageous. He kept asking about dad, about what he’s doing for the sake of defending the country.’
Ukraine’s first lady also said her son gave his father military advice.
‘[My son] is a growing up politologist, he knows everything, he gives us military advice, and to his father as well… What tanks, planes, helicopters we need to buy, what we are lacking.
‘What countries help us badly, what countries help us well. He is a military expert, you can talk to him about this for months.’
The pair have been married since 2003.