Inside war rooms where President Zelensky leads fightback against Putin

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Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has welcomed cameras behind the doors of his underground bunker for a documentary marking a year since the Russian invasion.

On a tour around the rooms where he has effectively spent the last 12 months, the wartime leader pointed out the things that inspire him to keep fighting – and gave a peek inside his wardrobe.

As well as the necessities, such as a sink and a single bed, the bunker is filled with small decorative trinkets that show it isn’t just a cold and austere base.

‘This is my home, I’ve been living here for a year,’ Zelensky tells Ukrainian journalist Dmytro Komarov, who has helmed the documentary project titled ‘A Year’.

On his desk, alongside the vital telephone which he has used to contact his fellow world leaders, the president keeps a bust of Winston Churchill and small models of fighter jets and battleships.

He also keeps a small photograph of him with his wife Olena and two children, from a time before the war.

Speaking to Komarov, he recalled the first time he came down to the bunker after being told about the invasion.

He said: ‘It’s very difficult to remember all the details. I got a call that it all had started.

‘We woke up with my wife, my family, my son, my daughter [asleep]. I definitely thought about waking the kids up, packing up everyone.

‘To tell the kids what is happening, that the war had started. They are adults, they must understand what’s happening.

‘I left very fast. I love my family, but for me as president, being here was a priority.’

Zelensky was joined by his family several hours later, after security forces decided it would be too dangerous for them to stay apart from him.

He told Komarov he used the phone on his desk to call 27 leaders in the morning of February 24 last year, as Russian tanks were rolling towards Kyiv.

Soon after that, the people responsible for his safety urged him to leave Kyiv and move somewhere that was less of a risk.

He said: ‘I was told to pack up, because I was a target, that they have to do everything they can to get me to a safe place.

‘I didn’t think about what might happen, about myself. This is not about bravery.

‘I thought about the consequences of my leaving and what would happen. The responsibility is on me.

If I leave, no-one will ask afterwards about who suggested it. There will be only the result: you have abandoned your state.

‘I think [that is] betrayal.’

His wardrobe, unsurprisingly, is mostly made up of khaki green sweaters and jackets – he has rarely been pictured in anything else for the past year.

But Zelensky showed the interviewer one symbolically important piece of clothing, a suit that has been untouched since the invasion, still kept in its dry-cleaning bag.

It is being saved for him to wear on or after the day of a Ukrainian victory.

He said: ‘We will win soon, so we will wear suits again.’

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