'Don't get used to our pain': Ukrainian First Lady appeals to the West

‘Don’t get used to our pain and grief’: Ukrainian First Lady appeals to Americans not to grow accustomed to war in Ukraine, before interview is suddenly interrupted by air raid siren

  • Speaking to Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts, Olena Zelenska sent a heartfelt message to the West as the war in Ukraine enters its fourth month
  • ‘Do not get used to this war. The war may be [happening] far, far away. There [are] some distant territories… But don’t get used to that,’ Zelenska said
  • But the interview was suddenly stopped when raid sirens went off, forcing Zelenska and Roberts to briefly pause the questioning and hunker down 
  • ‘Let’s hope it’s a false alarm,’ Zelenska muttered, remaining composed and confident in the face of this new normal in her besieged country 

Ukraine’s first lady appealed to America and the world not to grow accustomed to her nation’s pain before being interrupted by blaring air raid sirens during her first-ever one-on-one interview since the start of war in her country.

‘Do not get used to this war. The war may be [happening] far, far away. There [are] some distant territories… But don’t get used to that,’ Olena Zelenska said, as she was overcome with emotion, while speaking to Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts. 

‘Otherwise, we are risking [having] a never-ending war,’ she said.

Speaking through a translator, Zelenska sent the heartfelt message to the West as the war enters its fourth month leaving behind a trail of death and destruction. 

But the interview was suddenly stopped when raid sirens went off, forcing Zelenska and Roberts to briefly pause the questioning and hunker down. 

‘Let’s hope it’s a false alarm,’ Zelenska muttered, remaining composed and seemingly accustomed to this new normal in the besieged country. 

The sit-down interview was resumed 30 minutes later, as Ukraine’s first lady appeared determined to expose the harsh reality of the ongoing conflict launched by the Kremlin in February. 

Speaking to Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts, Olena Zelenska sent a heartfelt message to the West as the war enters its fourth month

But the interview was suddenly stopped when raid sirens went off, forcing Zelenska and Roberts to briefly pause the questioning and hunker down

Zelenska, who has been married to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for nearly two decades and shares two children with him, said she vividly remembers the first moments when the war started. 

In the early morning hours of that fateful Thursday, February 24, Zelenska said she and her family were awakened by the sounds of bombardment in the vicinities of Kyiv. 

The first lady said despite the previous week of rising tension between the Kremlin and Ukraine, the severity of the situation did not immediately dawn on her.

‘Well, I would say in that very moment, it was hard for us to understand the level, the extent of [the] threat that we were facing,’ she said. 

‘Because we heard all these sounds but looking at the damage that was caused to the suburbs of Kyiv, only then we realized how fast they could go further on, how fast they could reach the city.’ 

What followed were weeks filled with uncertainty and fear for all Ukrainian households, including the first family, which also had to separate.

Pledging to serve his country and support the thousands of military men and women fighting Russian troops, President Zelensky separated from his children and wife to lead Ukraine through the invasion. 

The sit-down interview was resumed 30 minutes later

The first lady was determined to expose the harsh reality of the ongoing conflict launched by the Kremlin in February

‘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 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 realized 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.’ 

The first lady also spoke about the false sense of normalcy in some parts of the country and the persisting threats in others. 

‘There’s this very strange feeling because you can see people walking down the streets as if there’s no war. There’s an air raid warning or the signals that may be announced and some of the people are ignoring that,’ she said. 

Zelenska has been married to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for nearly two decades ad shares two children with him. Above, the couple pictured on May 17 

A rescuer walks among ruins of a school in Kharkiv, partially destroyed by a rocket on June 2

Two elderly women clean potatoes in the vicinity of a building destroyed by Russian bombing

Despite the lingering concerns as the end of the war remains but a wish, Zelenska said she was incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support from the West.  

‘We truly feel the support coming from the people. From the United States. It’s really important because you feel you are not alone,’ she said. 

When told by Roberts that Biden had committed to sending more weapons and machinery, Zelenska said, ‘I hope so,’ and nervously laughed. 

The first lady was adamant that her country would not give up territory in efforts to end the conflict, arguing that the move would only bolster the Kremlin’s intimidation techniques and attacks. 

‘You just can’t concede parts of your territories, it’s like conceding freedom,’ she told Roberts. 

‘And besides, I would like to say that… even if we would concede our territories, the aggressor would not stop at that. He would continue pressing. He would continue launching more and more steps forward, more and more attacks on our territory.’

Zelenska 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

A boy looks at the remains of destroyed houses. As the city of Kyiv tries to return to normality, the streets are a reminder that the war is still raging

A man walks through the streets of Kyiv amid the wreckage of Russian armoured cars on June 1

On Thursday, Russian forces tried to assault the east Ukrainian village of Berestove that lies on a main road linking the Luhansk region’s city of Lysychansk to the rest of the country, a Ukrainian general said. 

Russia is close to capturing all of Luhansk, which is one of two Ukrainian regions that make up the region known as the Donbas. 

Russian forces are also trying to attack the town of Sviatohirsk in the Donetsk region, General Oleksiy Gromov told a press briefing.  

As the brutal invasion approaches its fourth month, the Ukrainian civilian death toll has risen to at least 4,000, the UN said.

However, the organization warned the real number is ‘likely considerably higher,’ and satellite images of mass graves in Ukraine suggest more than 10,000 residents have been killed in the war. 

Ukraine has lost 20,000 troops, Russia claimed, but Kyiv estimated just in April the number was 3,000, POLITICO reported. 

Zelenskyy’s country has claimed that more than 30,000 Russian troops have been killed,  although latest figures released by the Kremlin in March put the number at 1,351. 

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