Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska explained in an emotional new interview that her 9-year-old son used to be interested in playing the piano, dancing, sports and other hobbies.
Now, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he wants to learn how to use a rifle.
“He wants to be a soldier,” she told NBC News.
“Before the war, my son used to go to the folk dance ensemble. He played piano. He learned English. He of course attended sports club,” Zelenska told the outlet through a translator. “And now, I cannot bring him back to doing arts and humanities. The only thing he wants to do is martial arts and how to use a rifle.”
The first lady added that she wants to make sure the childhood of her son, Kyrylo, “is given back to him, and that he enjoys his life to the fullest.”
Zelenska and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy have two children: Kyrylo and their daughter, Oleksandra, who is 18.
Live updates:US may send fighter jets to Ukraine; 15,000 Russian soldiers killed, 45,000 wounded
Ukraine:First lady shows war toll, asks for more arms
The war in Ukraine has internally displaced more than 8 million people in the country, and more than 6.5 million people from Ukraine have fled to other countries in the region, according to the United Nations. Women and children make up about 90% of those fleeing.
Zelenska addressed Congress on Wednesday and urged U.S. officials to provide more weapons for Ukraine’s fight “for our shared values of human life.”
“You help us and your help is very strong,” Zelenska said. “While Russia kills, America saves, and you should know about it. We thank you for that.”
She also showed photos of children and families destroyed by Russia’s missile attacks in Ukraine and requested additional U.S. air defense weaponry.
“I am asking for air defense systems in order for rockets not to kill children in their strollers.”
Contributing: John Bacon, Tom Vanden Brook and Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY