Global outrage as Ukraine’s Zelensky puts war on ‘pose’ in Vogue photoshoot

Five months on, 12,272 civilian casualties have been recorded in Ukraine, a number that is likely to increase as the war continues.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and first lady Olena Zelenska have come under global criticism over their dubbed ‘Portrait of Bravery’ in Vogue magazine this week.

As the Russian-led war on Ukraine rages on for a fifth month, the Ukrainian elite landed on the covers of the world’s leading fashion magazine. The Vogue interview focused on the royal couple’s growing bond and strength during the the war.

Zelenskyy and Zelenska were seen striking poses around their residence, covered with make-shift barricades using sandbags.

Other images were shot to the backdrop of destruction caused by the Russian invasion, with one photo showing Zelenska standing behind a wrecked jet, surrounded by Ukrainian army personnel at the Antonov Airport.

The photoshoot was quick to ignite criticism across social media in the Middle East and beyond, with some users on the platforms describing it as “an embarrassment”.

“While Ukrainian victims fall by the dozens daily and thousands are displaced, Ukrainian President Zelensky and his wife are doing a photo session for Vogue fashion magazine,” tweeted Ramy Abdu, Chairman of Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor.

The photoshoot also raised questions among social media users, with Rim Bougamra, an anchor at Riyadh-based Al Arabiya, tweeting,”Is this a right time for a photoshoot while the people die in air strikes and out of hunger without clear solutions in the horizon?”

Others described Zelenskyy as being “morally bankrupt” for the photoshoot as the war continues to claim the lives of more civillians.

“When your people are dying in a NATO proxy war and you pose for Vogue you are not a leader, you are a morally bankrupt NATO-controlled parasite who sends his own people to death,” added another social media user.

While some praised the couple for their perceived “bravery”, some also questioned the double standards approach with the Russian invasion of Ukraine versus the US invasion of Iraq.

“I don’t remember Saddam Hussein’s wife being on the cover of Vogue when Iraq was illegally invaded,” said a Lebanese-Egyptian Twitter user, referring to the US invasion of Baghdad.

Since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, the west has been accused of approaching the wars with double standards, sidelining bloody conflicts and attacks in the Middle East while calling for solidarity in Europe.

The US, which has been funding Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion, has also been the focus of criticism, given its history in Iraq and Afghanistan. To date, both countries are reeling from the aftermath of the wars.

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, Zelenskyy has become a key character for world media, regularly shown dressed in what has become his signature green t-shirt and a prominent beard.

Five months on, the UN has recorded at least 12,272 civilian casualties, out of which 5,237 killed and 7,035 injured. The actual figures are believed to be higher as the war continues to ravage on.

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