Boxing Legends Vitali & Wladimir Klitschko Are Ready to Fight for Ukraine
Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, both former professional boxers, are prepared to go to the frontlines of Ukraine should the Russian invasion of Ukraine continue.
Vitali, who is now the mayor of Kyiv, told “Good Morning Britain,” "It's already a bloody war… I don't have another choice. I have to do that. I would fight."
The 50-year-old added, "I believe in Ukraine, I believe in my country, and I believe in my people.”
Reuters reports Wladimir enlisted in Ukraine’s reserve army earlier this month.
He also posted a lengthy piece on LinkedIn that read, in part, “I am writing to you from Kyiv, the capital of a country at war, a country being attacked and invaded from all sides. It is not ‘the war of Ukraine,’ it is Putin's war. Meticulous preparations were hidden behind the fog of the last few weeks in order to set in motion a plan that had been drawn up for months… He makes it clear that he wants to destroy the Ukrainian state and the sovereignty of its people. Words are followed by missiles and tanks. Destruction and death come upon us. That's it, blood will mix with tears.”
He later added, "The Ukrainian people are strong. And it will remain true to itself in this terrible ordeal. A people longing for sovereignty and peace. A people who consider the Russian people their brothers.”
"It knows that they basically do not want this war," the star continued. "The Ukrainian people have chosen democracy."
Wladimir warned, "But: Democracy is a fragile regime. Democracy cannot defend itself; it needs the will of the citizens, the commitment of everyone. Basically, there is no democracy without democrats."
The athlete is also a father, who shares 7-year-old daughter Kaya with Hayden Panettiere. When he tweeted a message about Ukraine, his ex Hayden showed her support by re-sharing it. The message said, "The world is watching how reckless and deadly imperialism is, not just for #Ukraine but the whole world. Let history be a lesson to not be repeated."
The world is watching how reckless and deadly imperialism is, not just for #Ukraine but the whole world. Let history be a lesson to not be repeated.
Panettiere also posted a message of support on Instagram, writing, "I have personally witnessed the strength of the Ukrainian people who fought so hard for their independence and have continued to passionately defend their country over the years. What Putin is doing is an absolute disgrace! This horrific moment in history sends a terrifying message: the message that in this day and age, in year 2022, it’s okay to violate the rights of free people and allow autocrats like Putin to take whatever they please."
She continued, "I’m praying for my family and friends there and everyone who’s fighting. I wish you had more support and I wish I was there fighting with you! For now, I ask for those of us who can’t be there to stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and show your support for #democracy. Continue to look for updates from @klitschko and @vitaliyklitschko #demo4democracy"
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Meanwhile, the brothers’ friend Arnold Schwarzenegger praised them, tweeting, "Vitali and Wladimir ... I am thinking of you, my friends. You were my heroes in the ring and you're my heroes now."
The actor and former governor of California, 74, added in another tweet that he stands with the people of Ukraine, writing, "I share your grief and your hope for peace. You inspire me with your bravery and your humanity in the face of this nightmare. God bless you."
He followed up to write, “I stand with the people of Ukraine. I share your grief and your hope for peace. You inspire me with your bravery and your humanity in the face of this nightmare. God bless you.”
The brothers aren’t the only ones speaking out. “Dancing with the Stars” alum Maksim Chmerkovskiy is also in the center of Kyiv as the invasion continues.
He updated fans Friday to let them know he is safe, but explained, “I’m also talking to my friends, the Ukrainians. The situation is pretty dire. People are being mobilized. The whole country has been called to go to war. Men, women, boys, these people that I was judging some days ago, dance competitions… are going forward and getting guns and getting deployed to defend the country.”
Chmerkovskiy emphasized he’s not a reporter or speaking for everyone, but said, “People that I am talking to are very aggressively charged… so if this is not resolved in some peaceful manner in some way or form in the next day or so or two, I think it is going to take a turn for very, very much more aggressive actions and a lot more casualties.”
Addressing fans asking if he was trying to leave Ukraine amid the crisis, he said, “I’m not currently trying to leave. I’m staying here. I am doing my best to make sure I’m as safe as possible, but I am not moving toward the border currently. I heard it is not safe.”