As her husband, President Volodymyr Zelensky, calls on the nations of the world to supply Ukraine with weapons, Olena Zelenska is asking for ambulances.
Ms. Zelenska, who has lately become a highly visible advocate for humanitarian causes in her country, has raised more than $5 million in a little more than a week to help replenish the country’s supply of ambulances. The campaign, which is still collecting donations, has raised enough funds to buy nearly 50 ambulances, though Ms. Zelenska estimated that 400 vehicles are needed.
In an interview with a Ukrainian television network on Saturday, Ms. Zelenska encouraged more donations, no matter how small.
“Any amount is important now,” she said. She added, “I am grateful to everyone who joins our initiative.”
While his frequent video addresses have made Mr. Zelensky a familiar face since the start of the Russian invasion in February, the first lady has been increasingly in the spotlight in recent weeks.
Earlier this month, she made an rare appearance in Washington to address Congress, requesting more weapons to defend against Russia. Emphasizing the human toll of the war, Ms. Zelenska showed photos of children who had lost parents or limbs in the attacks.
She has also used her image outside the diplomatic sphere: Last week, Ms. Zelenska appeared on the cover of Vogue for an article titled “Portrait of Bravery.”
The ambulance initiative began during the Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen, which was hosted by Ms. Zelenska on July 23 to discuss Ukraine’s postwar reconstruction.
Each ambulance costs around $100,000 and is equipped with oxygen tanks, defibrillators, electrocardiographs, cardiomonitors and mechanical ventilators, according to United24, the public charity collecting the donations. They can also be driven off-road, a critical function under wartime conditions.
Donations have been received from 51 countries, led by contributions from Ukraine, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and Israel, according to Ms. Zelenska.