Zelensky’s wife makes emotional plea to share ‘terrible truth’ of Russian forces killing children

Olena Zelensky claimed that at least 38 children have already died in Russia’s war on Ukraine

<p>‘Tell this terrible truth’, wife of Ukraine’s president Zelensky pleaded</p>

‘Tell this terrible truth’, wife of Ukraine’s president Zelensky pleaded

The wife of Ukraine’s President Zelensky has made an emotional plea to international media to report the “terrible truth” of Russian forces killing children in their attack on Ukraine.

In five posts on Instagram, written in Ukrainian, French, German, English and Russian, Olena Zelensky shared pictures of some of the young children who had been killed so far in the war.

She claimed that at least 38 children have already died as a result of the invasion, adding: “This figure might be increasing this very moment due to the shelling of our peaceful cities.”

Ms Zelensky pleaded with the international community to recognise Russia’s crimes, saying: “When people in Russia say that their troops are not hurting the civilian population, show them these pictures!”

She appealed directly to “all the unbiased media in the world” to “tell this terrible truth”.

She added: “Tell it to Russian mothers - let them know what exactly their sons are doing here, in Ukraine. Show these photos to Russian women - your husbands, brothers, compatriots are killing Ukrainian children!”.

One of the pictures Ms Zelensky shared was of Polina from Kyiv, thought to be the first known child victim killed in the war.

Polina, who was believed to be around nine or ten years old, was shot dead with her parents by a Russian sabotage and reconnaissance group which opened fire on their family car, according to Kyiv’s deputy mayor Volodymyr Bondarenko.

Olena Zelensky also addressed Nato countries and asked them to close the sky over Ukraine.

An image shared by Olena Zelensky, thought to be Polina - the first child identified as being killed in the war.

President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Russia on Sunday night that his country would “punish everyone who committed atrocities in this war.”

In a video address, Mr Zelensky condemned the “atrocities” committed by Russian troops, including the killing of a family of four in an attack in Irpin, a suburb of Kyiv.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy with his wife Olena Zelenska on Valentine's Day - 10 days before war broke out

“Today, a family of four, parents and two children, were killed in Irpin as they were trying to leave the city. We will not forgive. We will not forget,” he told Ukrainians, adding: “We will punish everyone who committed atrocities in this war.”

Russia was criticised this weekend after two ceasefire attempts in Mariupol fell through and civilians were targeted.

Russian state media reported on Monday morning that Moscow had proposed new ceasefire corridors to aid evacuations, however most of the corridors led to Russia or Belarus.

Only two of the four cities mentioned - Mariupol and Sumy - had evacuation routes that lead to other parts of Ukraine.

A Ukrainian refugee in Poland after fleeing the deadly invasion

British government minister James Cleverly called Russia’s plans “cynical beyond belief”.

He added: “Providing evacuation into the arms of the country that is currently destroying yours is a nonsense.”

A spokesperson for Zelensky has branded Russia’s proposals “completely immoral”.

“These are citizens of Ukraine, they should have the right to evacuate to the territory of Ukraine,” the spokesperson said.

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

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