Washington Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin spoke about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine during his media availability Friday, calling for an end to the war despite offering tacit support for Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Russia launched air and missile strikes into numerous Ukrainian cities on Thursday, with the capital Kyiv among its major targets.
Ovechkin has been a staunch supporter of Putin, launching an initiative in 2017 called PutinTeam to generate support for the president’s reelection bid. Because Ovechkin is arguably Putin’s most famous advocate, he has rarely spoken critically about his foreign policy initiatives in the past.
“It’s a hard situation. I have lots of friends in Russia and Ukraine. And it’s hard to see the war. I hope soon it’s going to be over and there is going to be peace in the whole world,” Ovechkin said.
"Please, no more war. It doesn't matter who is in the war — Russia, Ukraine, different countries — I think we live in a world, like, we have to live in peace and a great world,” Ovechkin added.
When asked if he supports Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Ovechkin responded: “I’m Russian, right. Something I can’t control, it’s not in my hands. I hope it’s going to end soon and I hope there’s going to be peace in both countries. I don’t control this one.”
Ovechkin was asked if he still supports Putin and he responded affirmatively, before trying to provide a more diplomatic answer.
“He's my president. But how I said, I'm not in politics, like I'm an athlete. How I said, (I) hope everything is gonna be done soon. It's a hard situation right now for both sides.”
Earlier this week, Akim Aliu — a founding member of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, who grew up in Kyiv, Ukraine, prior to moving to Toronto — called out Ovechkin for initially declining to speak to reporters Thursday afternoon following Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
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