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Legendary heavyweight boxing champions Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko have confirmed that they are taking up arms following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Vitali, who has served as mayor of Kyiv since 2014, stood alongside his brother earlier this month as they confirmed that they planned to join their compatriots to fight Russian forces, with Wladimir revealing he'd signed up to the army's reserves.
GMB EXCLUSIVE:— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) February 24, 2022
'I don't have another choice. I have to do that.'
The Mayor of Kyiv @Vitaliy_Klychko tells @richardgaisford that it is 'already a bloody war' and he is prepared to fight for his country. pic.twitter.com/KvoGP5f92C
In an interview with ITV's Good Morning Britain on Thursday, February 24, Vitali, 50, said that a 'bloody war' was underway in Ukraine, and responded to a question of whether he would be joining the fight by saying, 'I don’t have another choice, I have to do that. I’ll be fighting.'
He added that the city of Kyiv was under threat from Russian troops, and said that Ukrainian cities were prepared to defend their country against the invading forces.
'I believe in Ukraine, I believe in my country and I believe in my people,' he said, explaining that as mayor his current priority was working alongside military and emergency services to protect critical infrastructure in Kyiv.
In a post on LinkedIn yesterday, Wladimir Klitschko, 45, wrote that Russian President Vladimir Putin had made it 'clear that he wants to destroy the Ukrainian state and the sovereignty of its people', but pledged to defend his country alongside his fellow citizens.
'The Ukrainian people are strong. And it will remain true to itself in this terrible ordeal. A people longing for sovereignty and peace. A people who consider the Russian people their brothers,' he said.
'The Ukrainian people have chosen democracy. But democracy is a fragile regime. Democracy cannot defend itself; it needs the will of the citizens, the commitment of everyone.'
A number of other Ukrainian boxers have spoken out about the invasion, including reigning WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight champion Olexandr Usyk, who ESPN reports denied reports he'd left Ukraine, telling his Instagram followers, 'Some wrote to me that I ran away; I didn't, I was at work but I'm back, I'm home.'
Less than a day after the Klitschko brothers spoke from Kyiv, Russian forces launched missile strikes on the capital, with US intelligence sources claiming that the military plans to encircles and ultimately capture the city.
On Thursday, miles-long queues were seen as residents attempted to flee Kyiv, while hundreds who remained bunkered down in underground Metro stations and other bomb shelters.
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