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GMB Exclusive: Ukraine's First Lady Olena Zelenska on the support the UK has given to Ukraine

On witnessing the horrific war crimes waged against Ukrainian civilians...

Like a normal person, I cry. I feel grief. I feel anger. I think everyone around me feels the same way - and what else can you feel when you see a murdered person near your own home? A child on his mother’s grave in his own backyard? A shot car with an inscription ‘do not shoot, children’?

And do you know what else is scary, apart from these very facts of Russian atrocities? It’s very scary to get used to it. There are already so many tragedies that they are trying to become commonplace, as for those residents of Mariupol who have to go for the water past the corpses of neighbours.

The human psyche is so arranged that it adapts. The first deaths always shock more than the tenth and twentieth. But in addition to the instincts of self-defence, we must have intelligence and conscience. We have to say to ourselves every day: I will not get used to it. I will never get used to it and I have no such right. Because only with a living heart can it be stopped.

On what must be done to bring Putin and those guilty to justice...

As in everything else, you need WILL here. The resolute will of the international community, world leaders, and relevant international institutions to call atrocities and crimes atrocities and crimes, and to call genocide against the Ukrainian people by Russia a genocide. This is the first very important step, and then do not be afraid to use all available mechanisms to punish the perpetrators.

In order to bring the perpetrators to justice, we must first certify all these crimes, which is what the relevant bodies are doing in Ukraine together with international experts, then we need to get them out of Russia, and for that we need victory. This is the first and foremost. Then there are international tribunals, like the ones in Nuremberg. That is, we need a real international interest in this now. Publication of Russian crimes in the world media, condemnation of supporters of the war - all this is part of the process that must take place. Only total condemnation, as history shows, can bring a country that has decided that it has the right to kill other countries and nations back to common sense. Because, as we see, this history lesson was not enough even for a century.

On a message for the West...

We are grateful for the humanitarian aid, for sheltering our people. Very grateful. However, it should be understood that baby food will be unnecessary if children die. Diapers - it would be good if mums could change them not in basements. What we need is weapons. Yes, mothers, children and the elderly in Ukraine need weapons - which will be taken by their defenders who will drive the enemy away from the borders of Europe. Ukraine needs weapons so that Ukrainian refugees can return home and rebuild the economy. Therefore, we ask you not to stop, to accelerate the pace of heavy weapons provision. We are especially grateful for the decisive position of the British government on this issue. From Boris Johnson we get an absolute understanding not only in words, but also in such urgent assistance with weapons.

On the UK's efforts to home Ukrainian refugees...

Every Ukrainian knows that Great Britain is our reliable ally and close partner. The British people and the British government were among the first to show their principled and unwavering support for Ukraine, becoming an example for many other countries. I know that many British people have opened their homes to Ukrainian women and children fleeing the horrors of war. However, the procedure still remains complicated and quite long. Unfortunately, for many Ukrainians, the United Kingdom is stereotypically associated with a difficult visa procedure, so those who have no friends or relatives do not see Britain as a refuge. So we are very grateful that the Ukrainian Family Scheme, Homes for Ukraine programs have been created for our people. Here the British can register and prove their readiness to shelter Ukrainians. You can choose a family on the website, it will give you the opportunity to get a sponsorship visa and job for six months. In general, this opportunity - to work, not to sit still - is crucial for our mothers. Creating summer camps for children would allow mothers to get a job, and children - to gain new experience, communicate with peers, and learn the language. The level of cooperation between Ukraine and the United Kingdom is currently high. I would like Ukrainians and Britons to be able to share experiences in many areas. If the visa regime for Ukrainian citizens is liberalised, Ukrainian artists, students, doctors, businessmen and others will be able to stimulate further deepening of our cooperation. This could indeed be a long-awaited, consistent continuation of all the important steps that the United Kingdom is currently taking.

On when she last saw her husband President Zelenksy...

We saw each other on February 24, early in the morning, when Russia attacked us. The husband and dad kissed us and went to work. He has lived there ever since. Since then, we only communicate by phone.

On if she believes the war is any closer to ending...

There is a proverb ‘I believe in the Armed Forces of Ukraine’ on our social networks. So, I believe in the Armed Forces and in Ukrainians, each of whom does his job in his place - saves, raises the economy, rebuilds, demines…And I will believe in the end of the war when the last Russian soldier leaves Ukraine.

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