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This article in German.
There were no attacks in Kyiv for about a month. It already seemed that peace reigned in the capital. Until a week ago, Russian troops again bombarded the city with rockets.
BILD recorded an interview with Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko and his brother, legendary boxer Wladimir Klitschko, at the site where the Russian missile hit.
BILD: Many people in Germany have the feeling that the war is only going on in the east of the country. But here we see how the rocket hit Kyiv….
Vitali Klitschko: A week ago, four Russian planes flew over the city and destroyed this factory building. This is the so-called “special operation” of the Russians against the alleged military units. And this enterprise has been producing wagons for centuries, including those for transporting grain. But not military equipment. I see the only point in attacking this enterprise in starving Ukraine and all of Europe.
BILD: How is the situation in Kyiv now?
Wladimir Klitschko: Life has returned to the city, you can feel it. In mid-March, it was still a ghost town. There were no people or cars in it. Now life has returned, but peace is very fragile. In the same way as with buildings from which only ruins remain, one can see that this life and this peace are very fragile, anything can happen at any second. The sirens are still wailing. A week ago, four rockets fell – in Kyiv, in the city. The sky above our heads is not safe. Europe must understand this.
BILD: How is the debate about Putin’s health perceived in Ukraine? Again and again there are speculations about his illnesses and life expectancy. Is it somehow discussed in Ukraine?
Vitali Klitschko: Putin destroyed the lives of millions of people. He started this war, he can end it. There is a lot of speculation that Putin started this war because he is sick and doesn’t have long to live. But I don’t have any information about it, everything else would be pure speculation.
But the millions of people whose lives have been ruined by Putin have one great desire: Putin must go or disappear – or God must take him.
BILD: Do Ukrainians hope that Vladimir Putin may die?
Wladimir Klitschko: The whole world hopes that this war will be stopped – by all means! It doesn’t matter at what cost, because too many people, including children, are suffering. Up to a thousand children were wounded and killed in this war.
BILD: We are now seeing heavy fighting, especially in eastern Ukraine, and we are hearing signals that Ukraine is short of ammunition and weapons. What is the significance of the battle for Donbass?
Vitali Klitschko: Blue sky, summer: this is an illusion of peace and tranquility. Fierce fighting is going on several hundred kilometers from here. The Russians have more soldiers, more artillery and more equipment – so we urgently need support. I want to emphasize again: we are protecting not only our families, our cities and our country. We also defend the values of every Western democratic state. We need support. We need ammunition, we need modern weapons, defensive weapons.
BILD: What happens if these weapons are not delivered in the next few days and weeks?
Vitali Klitschko: This means that more Ukrainian heroes will die. They fight with simple weapons against the modern weapons of the Russian troops. We must protect our soldiers and our country – for this it is important to get modern weapons. And I emphasize once again: this is a defensive weapon, we are only defending ourselves.
BILD: Will the West, Germany, be to blame if Ukraine loses the war in the East?
Wladimir Klitschko: As for the feeling of guilt, you can look at it in different ways. But the blame for this war clearly lies with the Russian side. It is important to understand that if we lose, then you will lose. We are connected to each other. Truce, democracy: this beautiful world is being destroyed here in Ukraine.
BILD: Will Putin try to attack Kyiv again?
Vitali Klitschko: Definitely. Kyiv was and remains a target. And not only Kyiv: Putin personally declares that he claims the entire former territory of Russia. He will continue to advance. It will not stop at Kyiv and on the border with Poland. I firmly believe that Putin will go as far as we let him. And Germany must not forget: part of Germany was part of the Soviet empire.
BILD: Does Germany pay enough attention to this?
Wladimir Klitschko: Persistence plays an important role in this war, because, unfortunately, it lasts for several months. Germany is probably also tired of the fact that Ukraine is asking for more and more help. But while this war is going on, there must be this support – humanitarian, military and any other. Because war destroys life. And she will knock on the doors of Europeans and Germans. Don’t underestimate this: the war has lasted three months, and it will last even longer – and more lives and buildings will be destroyed.
BILD: We reported that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi are planning a trip to Kyiv before the G7 summit at the end of June. What should they come with? What is the most important thing for Ukraine now?
Vitali Klitschko: We have been hearing for several months that weapons will be delivered “soon” and support will come “soon”. However, I hear from our military that this support is not in the desired amount. This means that we are losing territory and losing lives. And we should also not forget that if Russian troops continue their offensive, it will be extremely dangerous for every European. If someone in Germany thinks that the war is far away, then this is not true, it can affect anyone in the EU.
We need strong support with sanctions and weapons from the three leaders of the most important countries – as soon as possible. We have already sent countries a list of necessary weapons.
BILD: What is the most important desire?
Wladimir Klitschko: I think you can better understand the situation if you see cities like Bucha with your own eyes. It is no longer March, when Russian soldiers have just left the cities. But when the heads of the three states see the situation with their own eyes and talk to people, they will understand on an emotional level how important it is to support us. Everyone – weapons, money, humanitarian aid.
BILD: What could a truce look like?
Vitali Klitschko: The world shouldn’t be like this. (Pointing to a destroyed building behind him.) In our capital alone, more than 300 destroyed buildings, more than 120 people died. We want peace throughout Europe. To do this, we must join forces to bring peace back to Ukraine. We must put strong pressure on Russia. Sanctions are working very well. We are ready to fight and I will say it again: we are not only protecting our families, we are also protecting everyone in the European Union. Europeans must understand this. And we hope we never see such destruction in the West. But we never thought that something like this could happen in our homeland, in our capital.
BILD: And if Putin’s troops do not leave the territories in the east and continue fighting there, does this mean that the war will last forever?
Vitali Klitschko: We are doing everything to stop the war and liberate our territory. Vladimir Klitschko: The war will not last forever, it’s impossible. With clear economic isolation from Russia and support for Ukraine, this war will not last long. I am firmly convinced of this – in case this support comes.
BILD: How long will the war last?
Wladimir Klitschko: If Russia does not see that the whole world is against this war, then it will continue. But the whole world must come to the front against this aggression and show that it does not agree with it. That’s the only way it will work.
Vitali Klitschko: Please stop paying Russia. Every penny sent to Russia is money stained with blood. Because the money is immediately invested in the army, and then we see such terrible pictures not only in Kyiv, but also in the West. But I hope not in Europe.
BILD: How do you personally feel?
Vitali Klitschko: Every Ukrainian in the country lives with the risk of dying. Because every minute, every second, a rocket can hit any building in our city and our country. We are not afraid to die – although we do not want to, of course. We want to enjoy life for as long as possible. We protect our country, we protect our cities. Our ex-military father taught us that it is an honor to die defending our country and family. We don’t want to die, but we’re not afraid either.
BILD: It became known over the weekend that Wladimir Klitschko has been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. What does this mean to you?
Wladimir Klitschko: Compared to pre-war times, the world is now arranged in a completely different way. For me personally, it is no longer so important where I should be right now. Of course, in my past life as an athlete, it would have been a great honor to be there. But it is an even greater honor for me to be here in Ukraine and fight for peace. That’s why I’m here. And it’s nice to know that my brother and I are being honored somewhere in the world.