Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska said Ukrainians are grappling with the likelihood of a “marathon” as the country enters the fifth month of war with Russia.
“It’s very difficult to hold on for five months. We cannot see the end of our suffering, so we need to accumulate our strength, we need to save our energy,” Zelenska said.
Zelenska spoke to CNN at a crucial moment in the fight. Though Kyiv racked up a series of early victories in the initial aftermath of Russia’s invasion, the tide appears to be turning in the Kremlin’s favor, especially in the east.
When asked about her husband, President Volodymyr Zelensky, Zelenska said their “relationship is on pause, just as it is for all Ukrainians.
“We, just like every family, are waiting to be reunited, to be together again.”
“I can see him sometimes in — for a short time and not very often, but I can physically feel him next to me. 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 many — well, all Ukrainians. And we, just like every family, are waiting to be reunited, to be together again, to spend evenings, to have dinner together, to talk to the children about their things, and not only the children’s things but my daughter, for example, is a young adult now.
But we’re hanging in, we are — I like this image, we’re holding on just like that cupboard in Borodianka when the occupiers bombed a building — bombed all the buildings there. And we saw this photo of one of the buildings, and there was a wall remaining. And there was a wardrobe or a cupboard that stood undamaged. So we’re holding on. We’re telling each other, how are you? I’m like that cupboard in Borodianka. So I’m trying to hold on, just like that cupboard.”
“This is indeed terrorism. We cannot call this any other name. Yesterday in Kremenchuk more than 1,000 people were in the shopping mall. This is an ordinary shopping mall. There were children and adults there. We are all shocked. And unfortunately, we’re shocked yet again in this war. We were shocked many times. I don’t know what else the occupiers can shock us with.”
“In the first weeks and months and we were like sprinters, we were doing a short run at high speed. We gave it 200 percent. But now, everybody now is running a marathon. We need to calculate our strength; we need to hold on.
As you said, it’s very difficult to hold on for five months. We cannot see — physically or mentally, we cannot see the end of our suffering. So we need to accumulate our strength, we need to save our energy, and all Ukrainians must do it.
It’s very difficult for all of us. And we need — we are trying to find joy in simple things, maybe stroke a cat or do something simple. But we’re all looking — we all look forward to this war to end.”
This interview took place on CNN