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Zelenskyy Reveals Just How Close Russian Forces Came To Capturing Him

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Zelenskyy Reveals Just How Close Russian Forces Came To Capturing Him

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has opened up about how he and his family were nearly captured by Russian forces.

Russian President Vladimir Putin first sent troops across the border on 24 February.

Just hours into the invasion, Zelenskyy and his family were told Russian strike teams had been parachuted into Kyiv to find him and his family to capture and then kill them.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has revealed how close his family and he were to being captured by Russian forces. Credit: Alamy
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has revealed how close his family and he were to being captured by Russian forces. Credit: Alamy

Zelenskyy told Time reporter Simon Shuster – who spent a fortnight in Kyiv within the presidential compound – how his memories of the first few days of Putin's 'special military invasion' are 'fragmented'.

Upon hearing the bombing begin, Zelenskyy woke up his 17-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son with his wife, Olena Zelenska.

"We woke them up. It was loud. There were explosions over there," he recalled.

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He was then told by the military that he was a direct target and that a Russian team had been sent to find and kill him and his family.

Zelenskyy and his wife Olena Zelenska had to wake up their children quickly when the bombing first began in Ukraine on the night of 24 February. Credit: Alamy
Zelenskyy and his wife Olena Zelenska had to wake up their children quickly when the bombing first began in Ukraine on the night of 24 February. Credit: Alamy

Zelenskyy's chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, began trying to barricade the presidential compound with boards and scraps.

Incoming Russian troops were met in the streets by Ukrainian troops who fought to hold them back.

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"Before that night, we had only ever seen such things in the movies," Yermak stated.

Ukrainian troops held off Russian troops in the streets surrounding the presidential building. Credit: Alamy
Ukrainian troops held off Russian troops in the streets surrounding the presidential building. Credit: Alamy

While many may have fled, allies and friends of Zelenskyy broke security protocols to bring their families to the presidential compound and stand by their President's side.

Despite Ruslan Stefanchuk – the Speaker of Parliament – being required to take over if Zelenskyy was killed, he refused to leave the capital in a bid to find safety and instead drove straight to the presidential building on Bankova Street to run a vote to impose martial law across Ukraine.

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Stefanchuk said: "Maybe these words sound vague or pompous. But we sensed the order of the world collapsing."

Many of Zelenskyy's allies rushed to his side at the presidential building in Kyiv. Credit: Alamy
Many of Zelenskyy's allies rushed to his side at the presidential building in Kyiv. Credit: Alamy

A gunfight broke out that night around the building, and assault rifles and bulletproof vests were delivered for Zelenskyy and his aides.

The compound was nearly stormed twice by Russian forces while Zelenskyy's family still remained inside.

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Oleksiy Arestovych, a veteran of Ukraine's military intelligence service, explained the risk of the building being an easy target for enemy snipers due to the densely populated nature of the area.

"The place was wide open. We didn’t even have concrete blocks to close the street," he said.


However, Zelenskyy ignored advice from his bodyguards to leave the compound.

The president also turned down a secure bunker that had been specifically allocated to him, as well as turning down evacuation offers from American and British forces.

"I need ammunition, not a ride," Zelenskyy said.

On the second night of the invasion he went outside and recorded a video message, realising quickly that he had become 'a symbol' and needed 'to act the way the head of state must act'.

In the video Zelenskyy stated: "We’re all here. Defending our independence, our country."

If you would like to donate to the Red Cross Emergency Appeal, which will help provide food, medicines and basic medical supplies, shelter and water to those in Ukraine, click here for more information 

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: News, Russia, Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, Vladimir Putin

Poppy Bilderbeck
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