Despite the president’s focus on the military battle against Russian forces, the First Lady focused on humanitarian and child issues, working to raise global awareness of the suffering of ordinary Ukrainians as a result of the war.
First Lady Madam, after all that has happened, how are you and your family?
It’s like walking on tight rope: when you start thinking about how you do it, you lose time and balance. So, to be patient, you have to go ahead and do what you do. In the same way, as far as I know, all Ukrainians are caught.
Many of those who have survived the battle alone, who have seen death, say that the main treatment after the experience is to act, to do something, to help someone. I am personally supported by the fact that I try to protect and support others. Departments of Responsibility.
When you first became a woman, you promised to make children the focus of your work. How devastating was it to see Ukrainian children, including your own children, suffering in a war zone?
So it was: children and their needs were one of the key areas of my work, and equal rights were introduced for all Ukrainians. Before the war, we began the reform of school nutrition, preparing it for many years to be tasty and healthy at the same time so that children would be less likely to get sick.
How do I feel now, you ask? I feel like we were thrown away many years and decades ago.
Now we are not talking about healthy food, but we are talking about food in general. It’s about the survival of our children! As before we do not discuss what is the best equipment for schools – [instead] The education of millions of children is in question.
We can not talk about a healthy lifestyle for children – the first goal is to save [them] All.
Half of our children were forced to go abroad; Thousands suffered physically and psychologically. On February 23rd [the day before Russia invaded Ukraine]They were ordinary European students with schedules and plans for the holidays.
Imagine you were building and renovating a house, you put flowers on the window; Now that it is destroyed, you have to light a fire to keep it warm in the ruined place. This is what has happened to our children’s policies and to every family in general.
Tell us about the work you are doing in support of Ukrainian women and child refugees? What more could the world do?
First, we evict the most vulnerable – children [cancer], [those with] Disability and Orphans – For countries that agree to accept them for treatment and rehabilitation. The main route passes through Poland, from there – to other European countries.
Second, we import incubators to Ukraine to support babies born in cities bombed by the Russians. Power outages in many hospitals have endangered the lives of children. So, we need life saving devices. Two such devices have already been delivered, and eight incubators are planned to be delivered.
Third, we are accelerating the relocation of refugees – children and their mothers – because humanitarian assistance alone is not enough: children need rapid socialization and schooling in a new place. In particular, this applies to the thousands of children with autism who have found themselves abroad. We are now working to make it easier for them to access the classes, otherwise their growth will simply stop.
Together with the embassies, we are coordinating events in support of Ukraine – many international concerts have already raised money for humanitarian assistance to Ukrainians.
Have you been able to see your husband since the conflict began?
Inspired around the world by your husband’s wartime leadership in Ukraine. You married him in 2003 and you both have known him since you were in university. Did you ever know he had this?
I always knew he would be a reliable supporter for me. He later became a wonderful father and supporter of our family. Still showed the same characteristics.
He has not changed. Many more looked through my eyes.
You have a 17-year-old daughter, Sasha, and a nine-year-old son, Girillo. How did you explain the war to them? Are they with you?
Fortunately, the kids are with me. Also, like I said, when there is someone to take care of, it’s very disciplined. By the way, this also applies to children – by this time they have grown dramatically and feel responsible for each other and those around them.
Nothing in particular needs to be explained. We’re just talking about everything that happens. When I watch Pucha’s children’s interviews or listen to my friends ’stories about their children, I feel that children understand everything better than adults. They see the essence. As one little child said: “Why are the Russians so bad for us? Apparently, they were attacked at home?”
You are the second highest target of the Russian forces after your husband. How do you keep your determination in the face of such danger? What made you choose to stay in Ukraine?
I keep asking this question for some reason. But if you look closely, it is clear that every Ukrainian is the target of the Russians: every woman, every child.
The other day dead by Russian missile [while] Those who tried to leave Kramatorsk were not members of the presidential family, they were only Ukrainians. So it is up to us all to target the enemy.
Your husband spoke Russian directly to the Russian people, but it was difficult to reach them. When you look at the atrocities perpetrated on your people, especially Russian mothers and wives, do you have the message that you think they should hear now?
Now everyone can see war crimes – for example, war crimes committed by the Russians in Pucha, where civilians are simply lying on the streets with their hands tied.
But the problem is, the Russians do not want to see what the whole world sees. [in order] Feel more comfortable. After all, it’s easier to say “this is all fake” than to read the story of a certain person who died, and rather to read the story of a particular person, to see his relatives and friends in grief.
For example, read the story of a victim [in] Pucha, a woman named Tatiana who was shot by a Russian bullet and her husband, told the invaders to take the body away, but was beaten.
How do Russians see this? Unfortunately, I wanted more and more to think that they were blind in faith. They do not want to hear or see. I will not talk to them anymore.
The main thing in Ukraine today is that the world hears and sees us, and it is important that our war does not change “regularly” so that the victims do not turn into figures. That’s why I interact with people through foreign media.
Do not get used to our grief!
You have used your social media accounts as a platform to pay tribute to Ukrainian soldiers and the Ukrainian opposition. How proud are you of your country – especially what you call the “female face” of the Ukrainian opposition?
On the first day of the war it was clear that there was no panic. Yes, the Ukrainians did not believe in war – we believed in civilized dialogue. But when the attack took place, we did not turn into a “cowardly crowd” as the enemy had expected. No. We became an organized community.
The political and other controversies that existed in every community disappeared immediately. Everyone came together to defend their home.
I look at examples every day and I never tire of writing about it. Yes, the Ukrainians are incredible.
In fact, I write a lot about our women because their participation is everywhere – they are in the armed and security forces, most of them doctors. And they are the ones who take the children and families safely. For example, they can only go abroad. So, in some ways their role is different than men; This is more than equality!
Editor’s note: The interview in this question was slightly edited for clarity and length.