Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed gratitude for Ukrainian fathers fighting in the war against Russia in a Father’s Day post on social media.
“Being a father is a great responsibility and a great happiness,” Zelensky said in his Sunday post on Instagram.
“It is strength, wisdom, motivation to go forward and not to give up,” he added. “And no matter how difficult it is — to protect and defend the most precious. The future of your family, your children, and therefore the whole of Ukraine.”
Zelensky, who has led his country through war after Russia’s unprovoked, full-scale military invasion began on Feb. 24, has two children, 17-year-old Oleksandra and 9-year-old Kyrylo.
Throughout the invasion, the wartime president has made reference to his children.
At the start of the invasion, a defiant Zelensky refused to leave his country, recognizing that Moscow had “marked me as target No. 1, my family, as target No. 2.”
Late last month, Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska also spoke of the burden the war has brought to the country’s first family.
“Our family was torn apart, as every other Ukrainian family,” Zelenska said in a rare interview on Ukrainian television network ICTV.
“Today I will not have panic and tears. I will be calm and confident. My children are looking at me. I will be next to them. And next to my husband. And together with you. I love you all! I love Ukraine,” she said in an Instagram post at the start of the invasion.
Nearly 300 children have been killed in Russia’s brutal war, according to the latest update from the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which noted that reporting was limited and the agency believes “the actual figures are considerably higher.”
“In the name of children killed by the Russian army,” Zelensky said last week of his country’s continued fight against Moscow. “And for the future of millions of children in Ukraine and in various European countries who deserve to live in security and peace. To just live.”
Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned in a recent interview that the war could last for years.
“We must prepare for the fact that it could take years,” Stoltenberg told Bild am Sonntag, a German newspaper.
“We must not let up in supporting Ukraine. Even if the costs are high, not only for military support, but also because of rising energy and food prices. But that is no comparison to the price that the Ukrainians have to pay every day with many lives,” he said.