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Zelenkskyy Sparks Heated Debate After Participating In Wife's Recent 'Vogue' Photoshoot

Zelenkskyy Sparks Heated Debate After Participating In Wife's Recent 'Vogue' Photoshoot
Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodoymyr Zelenskyy has become a hero to many across the world for his steel-spined approach to the illegal Russian invasion of his country and the ongoing war it sparked.

But a new Vogue profile of Zelenskyy's wife Olena Zelenska has shown there are limits to that admiration. The feature has not sat well with many, who feel a glamorous magazine spread is an inappropriate move for a wartime leader.

And unsurprisingly, the controversy seems to fall mostly along party lines, with far-right figures outraged by the profile and using it to smear Zelenskyy and Zelenska as mere opportunists.

The Vogue piece, which features photos from legendary photographer Annie Liebowitz and will be included in the magazine's October issue, gives a glimpse into the human struggles Zelenska and Zelenskyy and their country have faced.

In the profile, Zelenska speaks of the extraordinary toll Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion has taken on her and her country.

"These have been the most horrible months of my life, and the lives of every Ukrainian."

Zelenska also said she is firm in her resolve that her nation will win the war with Russia.

"We’re looking forward to victory. We have no doubt we will prevail. And this is what keeps us going."

Zelenskyy spoke to the magazine about the difficulty in being separated from his family while managing Ukraine's defense and often having to go into hiding to avert Russia-led assassination attempts.

“Like any ordinary man, I have been worried sick about [my family], about their safety. I didn’t want them to be put in danger."
"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."

But the profile has struck a sour note with figures like political scientist and consultant Ian Bremmer, who characterized the profile as a rare misstep in Zelenskyy's peerless talent for communication.

For the record, Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister during Britain's entry into World War II, was featured in several magazines at the time, as was his successor Winston Churchill, who led Britain during the terrifying Blitz attacks by Nazi Germany.

On Twitter, the discourse on the Vogue spread quickly became a heated debate.

But others saw it as a humanizing profile of the conflict and that Zelenskyy's media and PR skills have been instrumental in keeping world leaders engaged in helping the country fight back against Russia.

Others pointed out there is a long tradition of wartime leaders being featured in magazines for precisely this reason.

And many Ukrainians themselves voiced anger over the American discourse about the Vogue spread.

It has now been just over five months since Putin's forces invaded Ukraine, and they have since conquered roughly 20% of the country.

Ukraine is preparing to shift its response from the defensive to the offensive, aiming to take back the port city of Kherson, the first city to fall to Russia.