Boxing icon Klitschko makes Ukraine war claim
Legendary fighter Vitali Klitschko has joined Ukraine's military reservists, with the mayor of Kiev claiming the country is at war and reportedly making a remark about Vladimir Putin.
Ukrainian hero Klitschko, who was a boxing champion in three decades before his final title defense in 2012, has started participating in Territorial Defense training exercises in Kiev, where he has been mayor since 2014.
Western officials and media have recently accused Moscow of gathering troops and military resources with the potential intention of invading its neighbor.
“Many of us served in the army and those skills had to be restored," the 50-year-old former Military World Games champion told the Telegraph.
"I think that such training is essential for top and middle-level officials of a country that has been at war for almost eight years."
The outlet seemed to suggest that Klitschko's words related to the Crimean Peninsula – a questionable statement given that the area was made part of Russia following a referendum held on the territory and the signing of the accession treaty in 2014, in the midst of the Ukrainian revolution.
Klitschko was noted as an "effective political operator" whose leadership has been criticized over restrictions placed on Kiev residents relating to Covid.
“I think it is more about character traits that all professional athletes share," he said of his move to join the reservists.
"Self-discipline, meticulousness, persistence and a strong sense of focus are key principles that help you succeed, no matter what you are doing.
“My connections are very helpful and give me a big advantage, because Ukraine cannot overcome the tough challenges it faces without friends and reliable partners.”
Moscow has repeatedly denied that any action is being planned against Ukraine.
Russian President Putin has said that he sees the continued expansion of the Western military bloc eastward as a threat.
In November, Russia made proposals to the US and NATO treaties that would ban the movement of Western military infrastructure closer to its borders and effectively bar Ukraine from joining NATO.
NATO has taken a hardline stance on the terms but highlighted the importance of maintaining dialogue with Moscow and publicly said it seeks de-escalation. Russia is scheduled to hold talks with the US and NATO in January.
The report said that Klitschko had aimed a jibe at Putin and called on the west to take "tough and unwavering" action against Russia.
"Ukraine has chosen the European path and wants to establish itself as a rightful member of the European family – historically, geographically and mentally," he added.
The 6ft 7in pugilist-turned-politician also thanked UK prime minister Boris Johnson for "all the support that Great Britain gives Ukraine."