Kyiv Mayor and Former Boxing Champ Vows to ‘Take Up Arms’ for Ukraine

Kyiv Mayor and Former Boxing Champ Vows to ‘Take Up Arms’ for Ukraine

Mayor Vitali Klitschko of Ukraine’s capital city Kyiv said Thursday he was ready to take up arms against the Russian invasion.

Klitschko, a former heavyweight boxing champion, said his immediate duty was to make sure essential services are provided to his constituents – but he said he was ready to join other Ukrainian citizens who are prepared to become “soldiers ready to defend our city.”

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 26: Vitali Klitschko of Ukraine lands a right to the face of Chris Arreloa during their WBC World Championship Heavyweight at the Staples Center on September 26, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Klitschko won by a TKO in the 10th Round. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Vitali Klitschko of Ukraine lands a right to the face of Chris Arreloa during their WBC World Championship Heavyweight at the Staples Center on September 26, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Klitschko won by a TKO in the 10th Round. (Donald Miralle/Bongarts/Getty Images)

“I believe in Ukraine. I believe in my country. I believe in my people,” he said.

Klitschko said the Russian attack was a “nightmare,” not only for Ukraine, but for “the whole region,” “the whole of Europe,” and the entire interconnected world, since Russian leader Vladimir Putin has embarked on a bloody quest to “rebuild the Soviet Union.”

Klitschko said Ukrainians have been tasked to “stand in front of one of the biggest and strongest armies in the world” and fight to “defend our families, defend our country, our cities.”

The onetime boxer said it was “painful, really painful” to see the destruction inflicted on Ukraine.

“The Russians have to pay for that” with “sanctions,” he said, accusing Moscow of shredding “international rules in the world” with its aggressive actions.

“Ukraine was always a peaceful country, a peaceful people, but right now we have to take weapons and fight,” he said.

Klitschko said Putin has lost his grip on “reality” and imagines himself as an “emperor.” He regretfully declared that such ambitions could only be thwarted by armed resistance.

“It’s already a bloody war,” he observed, mourning the Ukrainians who have already been killed.

Asked if he was prepared to take up arms himself, Klitschko replied, “I don’t have another choice. I have to do that. I would be fighting.”

John Hayward