Volodymyr Zelenskyy Says Wife Olena Is 'Stronger Than She Thought She Was' amid War in Ukraine

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
KYIV, UKRAINE - 2022/05/17: President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi and his wife Olena attend the farewell ceremony of former President Leonid Kravchuk. Ukrainian officials bid farewell to the former President of Ukraine, Leonid Kravchuk, in the "Ukrainian House," located in the European Square in Kyiv. The farewell ceremony was held before Kravchuck was buried in Baykovo Cemetery. Kravchuk was the first president of independent Ukraine after gaining its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. (Photo by Mykhaylo Palinchak/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
KYIV, UKRAINE - 2022/05/17: President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi and his wife Olena attend the farewell ceremony of former President Leonid Kravchuk. Ukrainian officials bid farewell to the former President of Ukraine, Leonid Kravchuk, in the "Ukrainian House," located in the European Square in Kyiv. The farewell ceremony was held before Kravchuck was buried in Baykovo Cemetery. Kravchuk was the first president of independent Ukraine after gaining its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. (Photo by Mykhaylo Palinchak/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Mykhaylo Palinchak/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty

Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his wife, Olena Zelenska, are opening up about their family life amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.

In a feature for Vogue's newest digital cover, the Ukrainian President, 44, said that his wife is "stronger than she thought she was."

"She has a strong personality to start with," Zelenskyy shared. "And this war – well, any war is probably bound to bring out qualities you never expected to have."

Zelenskyy called his wife "my love" and "my greatest friend," adding: "Olena really is my best friend. She is also a patriot and she deeply loves Ukraine. It's true. And she is an excellent mother."

The couple shares two children: 18-year-old daughter Oleksandra and 9-year-old son Kyrylo. Since the war began, Zelenska and the children have remained close. "I don't even know how I would have survived these months if we had been apart," she told the publication.

RELATED: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Visits Teen Gunfire Victim in the Hospital: 'It Is Not Easy'

Though, for security reasons, Zelenskyy hasn't been able to see his kids. "He's having a much harder time in this regard. He suffers. And then my kids do, too, because they can't see each other," she said.

"Like any ordinary man, I have been worried sick about them, about their safety. I didn't want them to be put in danger," Zelenskyy told Vogue of his family.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

"It's not about romance. It's about horrors that were happening here in Kyiv's outskirts and all those horrors that are happening now in our country, in occupied territories," he added. "But of course I've been missing them. I've wanted to hug them so much. I've wanted to be able to touch them."

RELATED VIDEO: Life Goes on in Kyiv, Where Residents Are Resuming Normal Activities amid Ongoing Russian Threat

Russia's attack on Ukraine continues after their forces launched a large-scale invasion on Feb. 24 — the first major land conflict in Europe in decades.

Details of the fighting change by the day, but hundreds of civilians have already been reported dead or wounded, including children. Millions of Ukrainians have also fled, the United Nations says.

"You don't know where to go, where to run, who you have to call. This is just panic," Liliya Marynchak, a 45-year-old teacher in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, told PEOPLE of the moment her city was bombed — one of numerous accounts of bombardment by the Russians.

RELATED: Who Is Ukraine President (and Former Actor-Comedian) Volodymyr Zelenskyy?

The invasion, ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, has drawn condemnation around the world and increasingly severe economic sanctions against Russia.

With NATO forces massing in the region around Ukraine, various countries have also pledged aid or military support to the resistance. Zelenskyy called for peace talks — so far unsuccessful — while urging his country to fight back.

Putin insists Ukraine has historic ties to Russia and he is acting in the best security interests of his country. Zelenskyy vowed not to bend. "Nobody is going to break us, we're strong, we're Ukrainians," he told the European Union in a speech in the early days of the fighting, adding, "Life will win over death. And light will win over darkness."

The Russian attack on Ukraine is an evolving story, with information changing quickly. Follow PEOPLE's complete coverage of the war here, including stories from citizens on the ground and ways to help.