Following another night of Russian attacks on Ukraine, Vitali Klitschko—the former world heavyweight boxing champion turned mayor of Kyiv—remains hopeful that his fellow citizens will continue to hold on.
Speaking to the Associated Press Sunday, Klitschko revealed that Russian troops have “encircled” Kyiv, making it impossible for civilians to be evacuated if the city is taken. He also noted, after speaking with president Volodymyr Zelensky, that “everybody is not feeling so well.”
Yet despite the ongoing invasion, Klitschko believes that Ukrainians continue to “show our character, our knowledge, our values.”
“To be honest, we don’t have 100% control,” said Klitschko. “We built this territorial defense in a short amount of time — but these are patriotic people. Right now, the most important question is to defend our country,”
On the morning of Feb. 24, Russian president Vladimir Putin announced in a televised speech that he had approved a “special military operation” in eastern Ukraine, insisting that Russia’s goal was not to occupy Ukraine but the “demilitarization” and “denazification” of its government.
However, despite Putin’s statement that the operation would take place in eastern Ukraine, several areas throughout Ukraine were targeted by missile strikes, which prompted thousands of Ukrainians to flee the capital. At least 368,000 people have now fled Ukraine into Poland and other neighboring countries in the wake of Russia’s invasion, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Sunday.
198 Ukrainians, including three children, have been killed during the Russian invasion, according to a statement from Health Minister Viktor Liashko on Saturday.
“We are at the border of a humanitarian catastrophe,” Klitschko said. “Right now, we have electricity, right now we have water and heating in our houses. But the infrastructure is destroyed to deliver the food and medication.”
Update: According to Klitschko’s spokesperson, the mayor of Kyiv “misspoke” when he claimed that Kyiv was “encircled.”
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