In recent weeks Zelenska has repeatedly used social media to highlight the plight of her nation, yet none have been quite as direct as her recent post, which ends with the rallying cry: “We will win. Because of our unity. Unity towards love for Ukraine. Glory to Ukraine! “
As her husband, President Volodymyr Zelensky, has emerged as the face of Ukrainian defiance of the Russian invasion, Zelenska has become increasingly vociferous online as a means to support him and bolster international awareness of their country’s plight.
When Russia first invaded Ukraine on February 24, Zelensky declared in a video statement that he believed “enemy sabotage groups” had entered Kyiv and that he was their number one target. His family, he said, was the second target.
The whereabouts of his wife and two children are secret, for security reasons. Nonetheless, Zelenska has been playing an active role on social media, inspiring her people and backing resistance to Russian forces, while garnering support from the rest of the world. On Instagram alone, she has 2.4 million followers.
She began the impassioned missive – headlined “I testify” – by recalling the events of February 24.
“Tanks crossed the Ukrainian border, planes entered our airspace, missile launchers surrounded our cities,” she wrote.
“Despite assurances from Kremlin-backed propaganda outlets, who call this a ‘special operation’ – it is, in fact, the mass murder of Ukrainian civilians.”
Zelenska highlighted the “terrifying and devastating” child casualties, while also describing the horror of babies born in bomb shelters and roads “flooded” with refugees.
The couple married in 2003 and had daughter Oleksandra a year later. Their son, Kyrylo, was born in 2013.
Like her husband, who has a law degree, Zelenska moved away from her academic field of interest and into showbusiness.
When her comedian husband first expressed his political ambitions, his wife was none too impressed. In the interview with Vogue, which featured a glamorous photo shoot, she said: “I was not too happy when I realized those were the plans. I realized how everything would change, and what difficulties we would have to face.”
She spoke of adjusting to life in the public sphere, but expressed her determination to protect her children, saying: “Let them choose how they want to live.”
In the three years since assuming the role of first lady, she has accompanied her husband on numerous official visits around the world, including to the USA, Japan and France. Meanwhile her position has enabled her to focus on numerous issues close to her heart, among them “children’s health, equal opportunities for all Ukrainians and cultural diplomacy,” she told Vogue.
One of her campaigns has been to improve meals for children at school, going on fact-finding missions to Latvia, Japan and the USA, among other countries.
She wrote: “These are young cancer patients from Ukraine. Just yesterday, they were hiding from the shelling in the basements of clinics. Now they are crossing the Polish border on the way to find safety and, most importantly, to continue their treatments. No aggressor in the world can prevent them from winning the battle against the disease! “
In her open letter she reiterated her husband’s demand for a no-fly zone, adding: “Ukraine is stopping the force that may aggressively enter your cities tomorrow under the pretext of saving civilians.”
“If we do not stop Putin, who threatens to start a nuclear war, there will be no safe place in the world for any of us.”