Brothers in arms. The Klitschko world boxing champions in conversation — as Kyiv, the Ukrainian city run by the older brother, comes under Russian attack again.

26 June 2022 By Paul Martin

First ever exclusive interview with BOTH Klitschkos in a location (“bunker”) we are not disclosing for security reasons.

Vitali, the great world champ boxer now mayor of Kyiv, makes a direct appeal to the soldiers fighting Ukraine inside his country: “Go home now.  Why should you die in a foreign land just for the money your masters pay you?”

He urges the world to follow Britain and consider all sorts of weapons to Ukraine as “defensive”.  Ukraine is defending the whole of Europe—we are fighting your war.

Some quotes:

“Putin is not just evil – he is mentally sick and he is a coward, pretending to be macho to hide his deep weakness. He’s caught in the past, trying to take the world back 50 years when the Soviets put up an Iron Curtain and fought the Cold War.  It cannot succeed in the 21st century when peoples are so connected through social media and travel…

“Boxing and my passion for chess have taught me how to win this war… be calm, and choose the right people in your team:  I’m finding that people who act macho often turn out weak, and apparently insignificant ‘skinny’ people turn out to be lions.

“We are up against one of the strongest armies in the world, but the Russians are not fighting for their children, like we are.  So they will eventually lose.

“This war has driven me to tears at least twice.

“When I went to our train station and found a group of children about to be evacuated.  One of them, aged 5, from Bucha was desperately asking about his mum and dad. A man who had been looking after them said: I cannot tell him yet that the Russians have killed both of them.

“A boy from Riga, Latvia, sent us a cookie jar filled with coins, his entire life ‘savings’, and said we should spend it on Ukrainian children hurt by the war.  The Deputy Mayor of Riga handed me the jar.  I gave a charity 100 dollars and am keeping the jar and coins to show people.  I’m inviting that boy to come as my guest to Kyiv as soon as the war ends.  Please help me find him.  I’d love it if British kids also want to send us some coins!

“I am half-Russian myself. My mum is Russian so how can I hate Russians?  I just hate what Putin is doing. 

“I had a difficult decision but I knocked down the famous Soviet-era statue under the so-called Arch of Friendship, showing the supposed “Friendship between the Ukrainian and Russian Peoples” because this is not the time to pretend we are friends.  They’ve destroyed the lives of millions of Ukrainians, and damaged the world’s food and its security.

“I’ve been many times to Britain, and fought British boxers, and the thing I look forward to (miss) most when I visit your beautiful country is: fish and chips.

“My biggest achievement as Kyiv’s mayor is to keep electricity running and to supply it even to devastated areas like Bucha and Irpin. These satellite towns were outside out grid before the war, and their people froze and nearly starved to death without running water, gas and electrical power, during the brutal Russian occupation in late January to end of March.

“Russians were once thought of as our brothers.  And I have always been taught that you must never fight your brother. Our mum said Wladimir and I must never do that, and we never did in our boxing careers (even though that would have been worth many millions of pounds).  Even today I will not pose for you together with him raising our fists – even though it’s just for a photo.

 “I see our religion as helping our people survive… so we’ve sponsored the rebuilding of St Michael’s Cathedral in central Kyiv… and we agreed to put destroyed Russian tanks and their grotesque huge rocket casings on display in the square outside it.”

“Wladimir came in and both men signed boxing gloves for us.  Vladimir sent some stamps to Boris Johnson to thank the UK.  He drew a heart on the back of the stamps, which showed the two Klitschkos after they had both become world heavyweight champs.”

Wladimir Klitschko said Putin was like a food addict: the more he eats, the more his appetite grows for more.”

Both men are part of the Ukraine Territorial Army, and have their uniforms and flak-jackets alongside them.  Wladimir says the two have been brothers in arms.But in the last few days they have not seen each other, till our joint interview. “I’ve been quite relieved to have had a break from him,” Wladimir quipped.

He says he loves golf so much he hopes the war will be over in time for him to be invited to a pro-am event: the the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland.