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First lady of Ukraine shares heartbreaking photos of children killed in the war

Olena Zelenska said 38 kids have lost their lives since Russia invaded the Ukraine on February 24.
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/ Source: TODAY

Olena Zelenska, the wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is sharing heartbreaking photos of the war’s youngest victims. 

“At least 38 children have already died in Ukraine. And this figure might be increasing this very moment due to the shelling of our peaceful cities,” Zelenska, 44, wrote on Instagram on Sunday.

“When people in Russia say that their troops are not hurting the civilian population, show them these pictures!” she continued. “Show them the faces of these children who weren’t even given a chance to grow up.”

Related: What to know about Ukraine’s first lady

NBC News has not verified the numbers of people killed. Russia has consistently denied targeting civilians. According to the U.N., two million people have fled Ukraine as refugees, and 406 civilians have been confirmed as killed in the fighting, although the final casualty numbers will almost certainly be much higher.

The five victims featured in Zelenska’s post ranged in age from 18 months to 14 years old. 

In one distressing image, 18-month-old Kirill Yatsko, who was killed in a shelling, is seen being carried into a hospital as his weeping mother runs behind.

The first lady also shared black-and-white portraits of children she identified as Alice, 7; Polina, 10; Arseniy, 14; and Sofia, 6.

Alice and Polina both died in shellings, while Arseniy bled to death after a fragment of a projectile hit his head, Zelenska said. Sofia was shot to death in a car with her family, Zelenska said. The little girl’s newborn brother also lost his life in the attack. 

Related: Bomb shelter falls silent as Ukrainian girl sings 'Let It Go'

“I appeal to all the unbiased media in the world! Tell this terrible truth: Russian invaders are killing Ukrainian children,” Zelenska wrote. “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! Let them know that they are personally responsible for the death of every Ukrainian child because they gave their tacit consent to these crimes."

In her post, Zelenska begged NATO to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine to protect innocent children.

Zelenska’s exact location is unknown, but she is believed to have remained in Ukraine along with her husband and their two children. While in hiding, she has been inspiring many with her social media posts about the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

Earlier this month, Zelenska shared footage on Instagram of the violence in Ukraine.

“Because of Putin’s attack, Ukrainians have to take their children in basements every night and fight the enemy beneath the walls of their homes,” she captioned the video.  "Ukraine is a peaceful country. We are against the war and did not attack first. But we are not going to give up. The whole world, look: we are fighting for peace in your countries as well.”