Ukraine's first lady vows 'not even war' with Russia can take husband Zelenskyy away from her

Olena Zelenska said she 'hardly sees' her husband since Russia invaded Ukraine. Credit: AP

Ukraine's first lady has said "not even the war" with Russia could take her husband, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, away from her despite their family being split up.

In a rare sit-down interview alongside her husband, Olena Zelenska said she and their children "hardly see him" since Russia invaded the country almost three months ago.

Ms Zelenska told national broadcaster ICTV how the couple went two-and-a-half months without seeing each other and told how they discuss the war, and share updates about their children, over dinner by phone.

But keeping spirits high, the mother said the interview had given her an opportunity to see her husband in what they joked was a "date".

The husband and wife gave a rare interview together. Credit: ICTV via AP

"Our family, like all Ukrainian families, is now separated," Ms Zelenska said.

"No one will take my husband away, not even the war, but yes, he lives at work. We hardly see him," she told journalists as they sipped tea together.

"Now we have had several opportunities to see each other, and I am also grateful to you for this opportunity because we are now spending time together."

"Date on air," joked Mr Zelenskyy.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know

The Ukrainian president has become one of the world's most recognisable leaders since the beginning of Russia's invasion, drawing praise for vowing to bunker down in Kyiv when his life was in danger.

Recounting the morning of February 24, when Russian tanks rolled across the border, Ms Zelenska said she awoke to find her husband was not in bed.

"I woke up to strange sounds outside the window, like everyone, I guess. It was dark, it was almost night then, and I saw that Volodymyr was not around," she said.

Ms Zelenska found him in another room, dressed in a suit without a tie, and told her: "It has begun". He then left.

Olena Zelenska recounted the morning Russia invaded Ukraine. Credit: ICTV

"It is impossible to say that we have seen each other at any length since then," she added.

Describing how she felt at the time, she said "emotions can not be conveyed because it is horror and numbness" - but they all immediately understood that "life had changed forever".

"And now I live for the fact when he finally says: 'It's over'," she added.

The interview was timed to coincide with the third anniversary of Mr Zelenskyy's inauguration as president.

Ms Zelenska said although they were able to make jokes together, they are living for the day they can be a family again.

"We are waiting, like everyone else, to be reunited," she said.

"Like all families in Ukraine who are separated now, waiting for their relatives and friends who want to be together again."