Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska on the cover of Vogue magazine; see pics

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In a war-ravaged Ukraine, which has been defending the Russian forces since February 2022, the Zelenskyys — president Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his wife Olena Zelenska — have emerged as the faces of resistance and defiance.

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Olena, especially, has been recognised around the world for being a humanitarian force working in tandem with her husband to keep the fight going.

After leading from the front many months since the invasion — that has displaced millions of Ukrainians — the first lady of the country has appeared on the cover of Vogue magazine to speak her mind. President Zelenskyy also features in the cover story, as they offer a rare glimpse into their relationship and the kind of team they make.

Calling her a “frontline diplomat and the face of her nation’s emotional toll”, the Vogue cover shows her sitting on marble steps, looking poignantly at the camera, and wearing an off-white satin top with black pants. There are heaps of sacks behind her, ostensibly for her safety, should there be a bombing.

“For Vogue’s special digital cover story, Zelenska and her husband Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke about life in wartime, their marriage and shared history, and their dreams for Ukraine’s future,” the caption accompanying an Instagram post reads.

It quotes Olena as saying, “These have been the most horrible months of my life, and the lives of every Ukrainian. We’re looking forward to victory. We have no doubt we will prevail. And this is what keeps us going.”

The interview, the publication mentions, happened in-person in Kyiv, which is the capital of Ukraine.

Next to another exclusive photograph clicked by Vogue photographer Annie Leibovitz, the Zelenskyys pose together, with the president holding her from behind. While he is in his usual olive green t-shirt, the first lady wears a turtle-neck full-sleeved black top and matching black pants.

The caption accompanying the photo reveals that when Zelenskyy first decided to run for office, Olena was “upset”. “I respected his choice and I understood that this was an important step for him to make. At the same time I felt that my life and the life of my family would change quite radically. The change would be long-lasting and quite complex,” she has been quoted as saying.

Zelenskyy calls her his “best friend”. “She is also a patriot and she deeply loves Ukraine. It’s true. And she is an excellent mother.”

Olena, too, posted some haunting images — in the aftermath of the war that changed Ukraine drastically — from the cover on her own Instagram account, with the caption, “To be on the @voguemagazine cover is a great honor and dream of many successful and prominent people of the world. The only thing I wish for all of them is that it is not because of war in their countries.”

She also wrote, “I would like you to see every Ukrainian woman here, in my place. Who fights, volunteers, settles in a refugee camp, does her job under the sound of a siren, holds on under the occupation. She has the right and deserves to be on the covers of the whole world. Each of you, fellow Ukrainian women, is now the face and cover of our country.”

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