Hall Of Fame Boxers Vitali And Wladimir Klitschko Vow To Fight For Ukraine

By Jason Hall

February 25, 2022

Photo: Getty Images

Boxing Hall of Famers Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko vowed to fight in a "bloody war" amid Russia's invasion of their native Ukraine.

Vitali, who has served as the mayor of Kyiv, Ukraine's capital and most populous city, since 2014, publicly addressed Russian President Vladimir Putin's announcement to conduct military operations in and ensuing attacks on Eastern Ukraine on Thursday (February 24).

The former world heavyweight champion confirmed his city was under threat and that his focus was on working with police and military forces to support critical infrastructure, noting that civilians were ready to defend the city as soldiers.

"I believe in Ukraine, I believe in my country and I believe in my people," he said via CNN.

Dr. Wladimir Klitschko enlisted in Ukraine's reserve army earlier in this month amid reports of Russia's strong military presence along Ukraine's border prior to Putin's announcement on Thursday (February 24).

"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," Wladimir wrote in a post on his LinkedIn account Thursday. "It knows that they basically do not want this war. 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. Basically, there is no democracy without democrats."

At least 25 civilians and 137 soldiers were killed, while hundreds more were injured in Ukraine on the first day of Russia's invasion.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights confirmed that the U.N. Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine received reports of at least 25 civilians killed and more than 100 injured in connection to "shelling and air strikes" in a statement obtained by NBC News Friday (February 25) morning.

"This is more than the total number of civilian casualties recorded by the U.N. Human Rights Office on both sides of the contact line for the whole of 2021," the statement read, noting that 25 people were killed and 85 injured in 2021.

The UN human rights office confirmed 114 of the 127 civilian casualties took place in Government-controlled areas such as the Donetsk, Cherkasy, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Kherson and Luhansk regions.

"Because of the security situation, civilian casualties in Government-controlled territory are likely to be under-reported, and real figures, therefore, could be higher," the office said via NBC News.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky announced at least 137 soldiers were killed and 316 were injured on Thursday, according to preliminary figures, CNN reports.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his country would conduct military operations in Eastern Ukraine during an NBC News translation of a speech addressing the Russian population prior to sunrise early Thursday morning in Moscow.

The announcement appeared to serve as the final action ahead of an attack by Putin and the Russian military, which the U.S. and European allies to the neighboring Ukraine have attempted to prevent from taking place through diplomatic discussions.

A Ukraine interior minister confirmed to NBC News via text message that "cruise and ballistic missile strikes" were already underway shortly after Putin's announcement.

NBC News correspondent Erin McLaughlin said explosions could be heard from her live shot in Kyiv, Ukraine's capital city, at 6:00 a.m. local time.

More than 1,000 protesters were reportedly arrested during anti-war protests throughout Russia amid President Putin's announcement to conduct military operations and ensuing attack on Ukraine, BNO News reported.

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