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Interview with Vitali Klitschko: “I am willing to sacrifice my life for my country”

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Vitali Klitschko, mayor of the city of kyiv in Ukraine, said he is willing to sacrifice his life for the war-torn country, while revealing the emotional impact Russia’s attack is having on him and warning that the war ” He can take on anyone in the world.”

Vitali Klitschko, mayor of kyiv and former heavyweight champion at the kyiv city hall on February 27. (Image: Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

Klitschko, who was elected mayor of Ukraine’s capital kyiv for the first time in 2014 after a long and successful boxing career, expressed optimism about the way the fight is going so far, saying in an interview with Yahoo France on Friday: “I am trying to keep things positive, I think positively, in this critical period I remain optimistic.”

However, he said he was willing to sacrifice his own life in combat and recalled the death of his father, an officer in the Soviet Air Force, who died of cancer after being exposed to high levels of radiation while working in the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. .

Klitschko fights back tears

“He always taught me that it is a great privilege to die defending your country,” Klitschko said. “If my home country needs my life, I am willing to sacrifice my life for my country, my children, for the future of my family.”

“No one wants to die, everyone wants to live, but the Russians want to rebuild the Russian Empire and we don’t want to live in the Russian Empire,” Klitschko added. “The Russians are trying to bring us to our knees, but we are fighting for freedom and for the future of our children and our country.”

The attack, now in its fourth week, brought him to tears Friday morning as he spoke to a woman who had lost her home in a Russian attack.

kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko (L) comforts a woman at the site where a bomb attack on Friday damaged apartment buildings in kyiv, Ukraine.  (Image: Rodrigo Abd/AP)

kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko (L) comforts a woman at the site where a bomb attack damaged apartment buildings in kyiv, Ukraine, on Friday. (Image: Rodrigo Abd/AP)

“I’m an old man, a strong man, but it’s hard to hear that, to see human emotions,” the 6-foot-1 former heavyweight champion said. “This war is destroying plans, destroying lives, destroying the future of many, many people, and to be honest, I’m crying with this woman.”

Klitschko said 220 residents of his city had already been killed in the war, including six children. He added that about half of the city’s 3.5 million residents, mostly women and children, had been evacuated as Russian troops continued their march on the city, but noted that many former residents had returned to help defend your natal city.

The United Nations estimates there have been almost 2,000 civilian casualties, including 726 dead, since the invasion began on February 24. However, it was difficult to determine an exact number. More than 3 million people have fled the violence.

“Unity is the key to peace”

Ukraine’s mayor stressed that continued international unity was needed to defeat Russia or war would eventually affect everyone.

“Please stay on the Ukraine side,” Klitschko said. “Unity is our key to stopping the war. Together we can stop the war, because if someone has the idea that this war is far away, does not touch it, then it is the wrong idea. This war can hit anyone in the continent, it hits the European continent, it can hit anyone in the world. We must all unite our strength, our energy and our vision to end the war. Unity is the key to freedom. Unity is the key to peace.”

The mayor refused to send a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling him “sick” and saying he wants to enslave the Ukrainian people and destroy European democratic principles. Klitschko said he doesn’t hate Russia because his mother is Russian and he speaks the language, but his people will fight.

“Leave Ukraine alone, go home, there is nothing for you in our country,” Klitschko told the Russians in the interview. “It’s our home, it’s our hometown, it’s our homeland and we will fight. You send your sons and husbands, your husbands to Ukraine and there is a great chance that you will never see your sons, husbands or husbands again because they too they will.” lose their lives in war. Stop the war. Leave Ukraine.

“We are a peaceful country, but we have no choice but to fight now,” he continued. “I see no other option. Raise your hand and become part of Russia? No, no, no. We have no other option. If Russia does not return to its homeland, we simply have to act. We have to fight and defend ourselves.

Klitschko thanked President Biden and European allies for their support in the form of food, water, medical supplies, and modern weapons, as well as humanitarian assistance, political pressure, economic pressure, and sanctions. He urged other countries to sever all trade ties, as Russia used every dollar and euro for the war.

“Deliberately targeting civilians is a war crime”

Klitschko is a leading figure in defense of Ukraine and appeared in a viral video clip earlier this week in which he was questioned by 7 News Australia about Putin’s claims that the Russians were only trying to hit military targets.

“Shit! I’m sorry,” Klitschko responded, pointing to one of the bombed-out buildings. “Where is the military target here? Is this building supposed to be a military target?”

Earlier last week, Biden called Putin a war criminal, a charge repeated Thursday by Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“After all the destruction of the last three weeks, I find it hard to conclude that the Russians are doing anything else,” Blinken told a State Department news conference, adding: “Deliberately targeting civilians is a war crime.” .

Christopher Wilson

VIDEO: The Klitschko brothers in the fight of their lives

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