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Ukraine First Lady Olena Zelenska has demanded a "global response" to the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war which is going on in her country since February 2022, saying that the Russian soldiers are “very open about this". Olena Zelenska also claimed that the soldiers talk to their relatives about this and their wives encourage the rapes. Olena Zelenska was speaking at the "Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative" conference in London.

Olena Zelenska said Kyiv prosecutors are investigating more than 100 possible crimes in Ukraine by Russian soldiers. “Everyone knows about the huge numbers of rapes. They're [Russian soldiers] very open about this. We see that the Russian servicemen are very open about this: they talk about it over the phone with their relatives, from phone conversations we've managed to capture," she said.

Ukraine's First Lady said rape is another instrument that the Russian soldiers invading her country are using as a weapon. “That's why they're using this systematically and openly," she said.

"In fact, the wives of Russian servicemen encourage this, they say, 'Go on, rape those Ukrainian women, just don't share this with me, just don't tell me'," Olena Zelenska alleged.

But, Olena Zelenska said, the victims of the war are afraid to speak out over the stigma and fears that those responsible may return and do it again.

"That is why it's extremely important to recognise this as a war crime and to bring all the perpetrators to account," she said. Seeking a global response to the war crimes, Olena Zelenska said, “There has to be a global response to this. Unfortunately, such war crimes will keep on going in the world as long as the servicemen think that they can go without any punishment."

(With agency inputs)

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