Olena Zelenska, wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, on Wednesday, 9 March, posted an open letter on her Facebook page addressed to global media, where she condemned the Kremlin's "mass murder" of civilians.
The letter is a response to requests for interviews from various media outlets, she said. It is "my testimony from Ukraine," she added.
"What happened just over a week ago was impossible to believe. Our country was peaceful; our cities, towns, and villages were full of life."
However, on 24 February, as Russia attacked Ukraine, the people of the war-torn country woke up to chaos. "Tanks crossed the Ukrainian border, planes entered our airspace, missile launchers surrounded our cities," she wrote.
The First Lady of Ukraine called it the "mass murder of Ukrainian civilians," despite the assurances provided by 'Kremlin-backed propaganda outlets' who, she wrote, called it a 'special operation'.
She added that the women and children of the country are living in basements and bomb shelters. "You have most likely all seen these images from Kyiv and Kharkiv metro stations, where people lie on the floors with their children and pets – trapped beneath," she wrote.
Although Russia claims that it is not raging a war against civilians, Zelenska said she'll recall the names of the dead.
The most devastating and terrifying outcome of the invasion is child casualties, she continued. "At this point, there are several dozen children who have never known peace in their lives," she added.
"Eight-year-old Alice who died on the streets of Okhtyrka while her grandfather tried to protect her. Or Polina from Kyiv, who died in the shelling with her parents. 14-year-old Arseniy was hit in the head by wreckage, and could not be saved because an ambulance could not get to him on time because of intense fires."Ukraine's First Lady recounts heart-wrenching incidents from the war
For some, these would be consequences of war, however, for Ukrainians, it has become a horrific reality, she continued.
The community is trapped and terrorised, she said.
"It is a horrifying experience for those people who need treatment and intensive care, they are in a worse state. "How easy is it to inject insulin in the basement? Or to get asthma medication under heavy fire? Not to mention the thousands of cancer patients whose essential access to chemotherapy and radiation treatment have now been indefinitely delayed," she asked.
"War against these innocent people is a double crime," she stated.
Ukrainians are tired, she further expressed, and pained while they have to leave their loved ones behind.
"Roads are flooding with refugees. Men are in tears as they are forced to break apart from their families. After all, despite all this horror, Ukrainians do not give up," she stated.
She called Vladimir Putin the "aggressor" who had planned to "unleash blitzkrieg on Ukraine" but underestimated Ukraine, its people and their patriotism.
"Ukrainians, regardless of political views, native language, beliefs, and nationalities, stand in unparalleled unity," she commented on the unity of the country's men and women.
"Kremlin propagandists bragged that Ukrainians would welcome them with flowers as saviours, they have been shunned with Molotov cocktails," she added, thanking the citizens from the attacked cities who have helped in whatever way they can.
"Those that keep working - in pharmacies, stores, public transportation, and social services – showing that in Ukraine, life wins," she shared.
She also expressed gratitude to the people around the world "rallying to support Ukraine". "We see you! We’re here watching and appreciate your support," she wrote.
"Ukraine wants peace. But Ukraine will defend its borders. Defend its identity. These, it will never yield. Close the sky, and we will manage the war on the ground ourselves," Ukraine's First Lady expressed.
She further appealed to the media to keep sharing and showing what is happening currently in Ukraine, and keep stating the truth.
"In the information war waged by the Russian Federation, every piece of evidence is crucial," Zelenska said.
"And with this letter, I testify and tell the world: the war in Ukraine is not a war "somewhere out there." This is a war in Europe, close to the EU borders. Ukraine is stopping the force that may aggressively enter your cities tomorrow under the pretext of saving civilians."Ukraine's First Lady Olena Zelenska
The war has become a reality for the people of Ukraine, she reiterated, that she does not know how long it will last.
"If we don't stop Putin, who threatens to start a nuclear war, there will be no safe place in the world for any of us," she implored towards the end.
"We will win. Because of our unity. Unity towards love for Ukraine. Glory to Ukraine!" she concluded.