The Russian invasion of Ukraine will soon enter its sixth month, and as the violence and destruction continue, Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska worries about what the future may hold for the people of her country — and for the people in her family.
Zelenska and her husband, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, are parents to two children, daughter Oleksandra, 18, and son Kyrylo, 9, and during an interview with NBC News’ Peter Alexander, she shared how the brutal fighting has already affected their youngest.
“He wants to be a soldier,” she said through a translator about Kyrylo.
It's a far cry from the goals the young boy focused on before the Russian missiles and airstrikes began in February.
"You know before the war my son used to go to the folk dance ensemble," the 44-year-old recalled. "He played piano; he learned English; he of course did sports club."
But as the world around him took a grim turn, Kyrylo turned his thoughts to fighting back and defending his country one day.
"Now I can’t bring him back to doing arts and humanities," Zelenska continued.
She added that "the only thing" her son "wants to do is martial arts and how to use a rifle."
But that's not what she wants for him.
Zelenska visited the U.S. this week to speak to Congress about Ukraine’s desperate need for more air defense systems, one step in what she hopes could help save lives while her country tries to find a path to peace.
And when there is peace again, the children of Ukraine will get a chance to get back to life as they knew it before.
"That’s what I really want to ensure," Zelenska said. "That the childhood of my son is given back to him and that he enjoys his life to the fullest."