Published14 minutes ago
Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska says the war in Ukraine has made her nine-year-old son want to be a soldier.
In an interview with NBC, Ms Zelenska said that now the only thing her son Kyrylo wants to do is “martial arts and how to use a rifle”.
She added that she hoped her son’s childhood would be “given back” to him.
Ms Zelenska, the wife of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, was on a visit to the US where she had been appealing for more weapons for Ukraine.
Speaking about the impact of the five-month-long war with Russia on her son, she said: “Before the war, my son used to go to the folk dance ensemble. He played piano. He learned English.”
But following Russia’s invasion, “obviously he wants to be a soldier,” she said. “I cannot bring him back to doing arts and humanities.
“And that’s what I really want to ensure is that the childhood of my son is given back to him, and that he enjoys his life to the fullest.”
Ms Zelenska, who is also mother to 18-year-old Oleksandra, spoke of the plight of other children and parents during her visit to the US.
During a 15-minute speech to US Congress on Wednesday, she presented photos and videos of Ukrainian children who have been killed or injured during the war.
One of the images included was of a four-year-old Liza Dmytriyeva, who was killed in an air strike in the central-western city of Vinnytsia.
“We want every father and every mother to be able to tell their child, ‘Go to sleep peacefully. There will be no more airstrikes, no more missile strikes.’ Is this too much to wish for?” she said during her speech.
“But unfortunately, the war is not over, the terror continues.”
Appealing for more weapons and air-defence systems, she said: “I am asking for weapons. Weapons that would not be used to wage a war on somebody else’s land but to protect one’s home and the right to wake up alive in that home.”
Members of Congress have been largely supportive of Ukraine’s requests for more security assistance, and have so far supplied around $8bn (£6.6m) to Ukraine.
During her visit to the US, Ms Zelenska – who has assumed a more public role recently – also met with US President Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.