WAR time leader Volodomyr Zelensky has revealed how cracking jokes helped his loved ones through the darkest days of the war.
The dad-of-two told The Sun he “can’t live without” humour.
In a touching reminder of his previous career as a TV comedian he explained how he used his wit to make his wife, his kids and his parents think “everything is ok”
He said: “When you see your children, sometimes you want to hold them, you want to support them.
“Sometimes they are crying a little bit.
“When they cry you can’t cry.
“You have to be strong and you have to teach them also to be strong.
“When you want to support your children or your wife, or sometimes your parents, you have to show that everything is ok, sometimes find some jokes about it.
He admitted the war had made family life difficult – and a lot of his meetings with his wife Olena were online.
He said: “We have a lot of meetings online and offline. It is more often than it was at the very beginning of the war. Of course, some security issues have influence on on our life.”
In the Sun’s world exclusive interview, lionhearted Zelensky shrugged off repeated Russian attempts to assassinate him.
He said the first time an plot to take his life caused panic.
But – much like outbreaks of Covid-19 – the other times weren’t so bad.
The president said: “The first one is very interesting, when it is the first time, and after that it is just like Covid.
“First of all people don’t know what to do with it and it’s looking very scary.
“And then after that, it is just intelligence just sharing with you detail that one more group came to Ukraine to [attempt] this.”
Russian special forces parachuted into Kyiv to kill him on the first day of Putin’s invasion last year – prompting bodyguards to seal off his office with makeshift barricades and bits of plywood.
His closest aides were issued with rifles and body armour. – with one aide calling his HQ a “madhouse”.
But when British and US officials offered to spirit the president out of the capital amid fears it could fall within hours, he replied with the legendary line: “I need ammo, not a ride.”
Later, as battles raged outside Kyiv, Zelensky walked outside the compound to film a defiant selfie video that rallied Ukraine’s resistance by proving he was still in the capital.
Almost two years later, Zelensky said Russia still “wants very much” to topple him from power.
Pressed on if Ukraine would take a chance to kill despot Putin if an opportunity arose, Mr Zelensky said: “That’s war, and Ukraine has all the rights to defend our land.”
Wearing a trademark sweatshirt emblazoned with the trident symbol of Ukraine, Mr Zelensky admitted his country’s fightback this year had not gone as well as he hoped.
Troops in a major counter-offensive advanced only ten miles in five months.
He acknowledged the lack of progress had discouraged some allies who doubt if Ukraine can expel Russian forces.
The US Congress has also blocked plans for £48billion in aid amid Republican claims the war in Ukraine could become a “forever war”.
But Mr Zelensky vowed to fight on and insisted the war was “not a movie”.
To watch The Sun’s full interview with Zelensky, click here.
THANKS TO OUR TEAMS
Zelensky with News Corp & Fox Corp team
By Jerome Starkey
PRESIDENT Zelensky thanked reporters for their bravery after inviting Lachlan Murdoch, the Chief Executive Officer of Fox Corp and the Chairman of News Corp, to visit Ukraine.
Mr Murdoch took with him a journalist from each company — Benjamin Hall of Fox News and Jerome Starkey, Defence Editor of The Sun.
In a press release Mr Zelensky “thanked the representatives of the media group for comprehensive coverage of Ukraine’s fight against Russian aggression and for telling about Russian atrocities despite the risks to themselves”.
Last March, a group of Fox News journalists came under Russian fire in Horenka, outside Kyiv. Cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski and Ukrainian fixer Oleksandra Kuvshynova were killed.
Brit Benjamin Hall was severely wounded, losing part of a leg on one side and a foot on the other, and also has limited function of a hand and one eye.
President Zelensky awarded him the Order of Merit, III class, for his “outstanding personal contribution to strengthening interstate co-operation, support for Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity”.
It was his first visit to Ukraine since he was catastrophically injured.
The President thanked Mr Murdoch for his visit and “emphasised that it is a very important signal of support at the time when the world’s attention is blurred by other events”.
Jerome, The Sun’s award-winning Defence Editor, has reported from the Ukraine front line since the war started.
Mr Zelensky said: “All this time, journalists, cameramen, editors, photographers, drivers have been on the front line.
“It is thanks to journalists from many countries that we now have such support in the world.”