Klitschko brothers say ‘weak’ Putin is ‘playing macho’ while destroying Ukrainian lives – World News


Deep in their heavily guarded bunker in Kyiv, boxing legends Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko treat themselves to some time out for strictly verbal sparring.

The brothers haven’t seen each other for a few days and Vladimir smiles as he tells us: “To be honest I was glad to have the break.”

It’s a light-hearted moment in a deeply serious interview, the first given jointly by Kyiv Mayor Vitali, 50, and Vladimir, 46, head of Ukraine’s Territorial Army.

They have become heroes in the fight against President Vladimir Putin’s invasion, even though their own mother is Russian.

In an exclusive interview with the Mirror, Vitali tells us: “The Russians were once considered our brothers. And I was always taught that you must never fight your brother.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets young entrepreneurs in Moscow


SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)

“Our mum said Vladimir and I must never do that and we never did in our boxing careers, although it would have been worth many millions of pounds.

“Even today I will not pose with him with raised fists for you – not even for a photo.

“We’re half Russians – our mother’s Russian, so how can I hate Russians? I just hate what Putin is doing. Putin is not only evil, he is insane, a coward who pretends to be macho to hide his weakness.”

Vladimir believes that the Russians will try again to take Kyiv.

He tells us: “The situation is very fragile and we can feel it.

“Sirens are still going on and off and Russian missiles are flying all around Ukraine.

“I am convinced that Kyiv is the ultimate target of the invasion. Putin is like a food addict, the more he eats, the more his appetite grows.”

The two brothers are half-Russian


Paul Martin)

Vitali believes Putin’s goal is to take Russia back to the Soviet era.

He says: “Putin is caught in the past, trying to take the world back 50 years to when the Soviets built an Iron Curtain and waged the Cold War.

“It cannot happen in the 21st century when people are so connected through social media and travel.

“Putin plays macho. Inwardly, however, he was always weak, but wanted to play the “strong man”.

“He must be sick to make this crazy decision to destroy the lives of millions of people. It comes from a sick idea to rebuild the world.

“But he can’t. The world is so global. The time when you could fight for land conquest and propaganda, like 50 years ago in Soviet times, is long gone.

“He’s a person from the past. And he also brings a great tragedy to the Russian people.”

Vitali recounts his “difficult decision” to dismantle the Arch of Friendship, a structure gifted to Ukraine by the Soviet government in 1982 as a symbol of relations between the two countries.

The two brothers after a win in 2012


Bongarts/Getty Images)

Vitali says: “This is not the time to pretend we are friends. They have destroyed the lives of millions of Ukrainians and damaged the world’s food supply and security.”

But he is confident that Ukraine will prevail. Vitali says: “It will be a difficult fight. We face one of the strongest armies in the world. We are so successful at this because this is our hometown, our home and the future of our children – the Russian army is fighting for the money.”

He and his brother were heavyweight champions and Vitali says boxing and his “passion” for chess taught him how to win the war. He says: “You have to stay calm and choose the right people on your team. I find that people who play macho often turn out to be weak, and seemingly insignificant ‘skinny’ people turn out to be lions.” He pauses for a few seconds to collect his thoughts over the past four months.

Then he says softly: “This war has brought me to tears at least twice.

“First, when I went to our train station and found a group of children about to be evacuated. One of them, five years old, from Bucha, desperately asked about his mother and father.

Firefighters work to put out a fire in a shell-hit apartment building in Kiev’s Obolon district


AFP via Getty Images)

“A man who took care of them said, ‘I can’t tell him yet that the Russians killed them both.’ Second, a boy from Latvia sent us a cookie jar filled with coins – his entire life savings – and said that we should spend it on Ukrainian children injured in the war.

“I gave $100 to a charity and am keeping the jar and coins to show people. I invite this boy to come to Kyiv as my guest as soon as the war is over. Please help me find him.

“I’d love it if British kids sent us some coins too.”

Vladimir intervenes: “Once we have won the war, we will work intensively on the reconstruction of the country. But I dream of a few days of golf. I would like to play in the Pro-Am at the Alfred Dunhill event in Scotland. All my profits go to our charity of course.”

As he leaves us to go on another date, Vladimir says: “Whatever my brother says, I agree.”

Vitali then tells us: “The West does not understand a very important point – we are fighting for you.

“Some countries in Europe understand it. When I talk to Estonia, Latvia, Poland, they say: “We understand. You fight for us’.

“But others disappoint us. However, not Great Britain. It’s groundbreaking and we’re so, so grateful.”

He opens up about his love for Britain – and for fish and chips.

Vitali says: “When the war is over, we will come back and the British will be welcome here in Kyiv.”

“I promise there will be no sandbags or barbed wire.”

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