Former boxing champions Vitali Klitschko and his brother Wladimir have reacted to the current tussle between their country Ukraine and neighboring nation Russia.
Ukraine has been on high alert over a possible military confrontation with Russia, which has amassed tens of thousands of troops along the border with its neighbor.
Speaking to CNBC, Vitali, who is the Mayor of Kyiv, said Russia needed to understand how strong Ukraine was, and what price it might pay for launching any military aggression toward Ukraine.
“Before our enemies make an attack against Ukraine they have to see we are strong, they have to see how strong we will be, it will be a very painful price for everyone,” said Klitschko
The Mayor said that Ukraine had a young democracy and a vision “to build” a European country, a vision rejected by Russia. Still, he said financial and political support, as well as support in the shape of military hardware and weapons, made Ukraine stronger.
He said he hoped diplomats both in Ukraine and elsewhere could “stop this aggression [in a] diplomatic way. If not, we have to prepare to take weapons in our hands.”
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Vitali’s brother Wladimir, another former boxer who now describes himself as an activist, also spoke to reporters Wednesday, commenting that the West should be aware of showing any “weakness” when it comes to dealing with geopolitical crises like the current hostility between Ukraine and Russia.
Asked if the U.S. is doing enough to help Ukraine as it faces a possible military confrontation with Russia, Wladimir Klitschko said “there’s never enough.”
“I believe that sometimes the West shows weakness in certain situations and that we need to be more united and protect each other and protect our interests, protect our democracy that we’ve been fighting for and developing in the Western world,” he said.
Meanwhile, speaking to reporters also on Wednesday following a press conference, Vitali Klitschko said Ukraine had to now “be prepared for any scenario” as there were no immediate signs of tensions being dialed down, despite diplomatic talks continuing in the background between Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, and Western leaders.
He said there was little appetite in Ukraine for more bloodshed — particularly given the deaths of over 13,000 people in east Ukraine in an ongoing conflict between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists in the Donbas region — but added, “we have to defend our country.”
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