In a recent interview, the teacher and mother whose bruised face became one of the first defining pictures of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the “meaningless conflict.”
“Please, get the message across that Ukraine does not want to harm anyone. Ukraine is a very friendly nation,” Olena Kurilo, 52, said. “Our mothers will lose their children, old people and children will die, ordinary people will die innocent of anything.”
Kurilo was seen wrapped in bandages after a missile attack sent shards of window glass flying into her face as she emerged from the hospital in Chuguev, outside of Kharkiv, on Thursday.
Her home had been entirely destroyed by a Russian missile attack, and she claimed to be only alive because of a “very strong guardian angel” at the time.
She told the Daily Mail in a recent interview that she made a direct plea to Putin, whom she blames solely for the conflict.
“I don’t know anyone who would like to go to war with Russia. Not a single person thought that Putin could do this,” she said, adding she thought Putin would stop when he recognized Donetsk and Luhansk regions, collectively known as the Donbas, as Russian-backed independent people’s republics. “’I understand that we are pawns in the game between Russia and the United States. We are a bargaining chip, but the world has turned upside down.”
Kurilo said she and her family are afraid, as are her neighbors. “We don’t know what will happen to our home,” she said.
“I call on all mothers in Russia not to let their children go to war,” she said in a grave appeal. “This is a meaningless war, it will not bring happiness to anyone, it will not make anyone richer.”
“We want peace. War is grief, it is human grief,” she said.