Vitali Klitschko, mayor of Kiev and former heavyweight boxer, says “we are prepared for any eventuality” in the face of tensions with Russia

“If the escalation intensifies … we must be prepared to defend the independence and integrity of our country – and civil defense has also [sic] to be prepared, “Klitschko told CNN’s Lynda Kinkade on Wednesday on” Connect the World. ”

“We hope that will never happen, this [is] worst case scenario, but we have to be prepared, ”added the former heavyweight world champion.

There have been months of tension near the Ukrainian-Russian border, where more than 100,000 Russian troops have gathered.

Klitschko said he was “worried” about Russian military forces at the border, but said it was possible that what we are witnessing is just a matter of optics, calling Russian tactics a “muscle game” .

Russia has not pledged to defuse after two rounds of diplomatic talks this week, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said on Wednesday.

Moscow demands security guarantees from the United States and NATO, including a binding commitment that NATO will not expand further east and allow Ukraine to join the military alliance – what NATO is not prepared to do.

During Wednesday’s roughly four-hour meeting – which lasted longer than expected – Sherman said the United States and its NATO allies made it clear that Russia’s request for Ukraine to never being allowed to join NATO was a failure.

Talks with the NATO-Russia Council are the second of three rounds of meetings this week. They are sandwiched between Monday’s US-Russian talks and Thursday’s meeting between Russa and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Klitschko criticized the talks in Switzerland and Belgium for not including Ukraine at a high level and called it a “geopolitical” game.

“Everyone is talking about Ukraine, without Ukraine,” Klitschko said.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said after Wednesday’s session that NATO’s behavior created unacceptable risks for Russia. Klitschko described Grushko’s comments as a “political game”.

“Without weapons delivered to this region, without financial support, without propaganda, this conflict will never, never take place. Everything happens under the control of [the] Russian Federation, “said the former boxer.

Sherman called it “difficult to understand” how Russia could feel threatened by Ukraine despite having the largest conventional army in Europe.

“Democratic European country”

Prior to entering politics, Klitschko was a world heavyweight champion boxer, retiring with a record 45 wins and just two losses.
He announced his intention to run for president of the country in 2015, but withdrew his candidacy and instead backed billionaire Petro Poroshenko, who served from 2014 to 2019 before being defeated by incumbent President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Klitschko sees Zelensky as a rival and accused the president of sending state security agents to his home to exert political pressure on him. The state security agency denied taking action against him.
Prior to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, Klitschko was a leader of the opposition during protests against his neighbor’s invasion.

“In 2014, Ukraine decided to take a European direction for the development of our country. It’s not [the] Russian Federation and Mr. Putin is not satisfied with this decision because his idea [is] rebuild [the] Soviet Empire, ”Klitschko said, referring to the Russian president.

“We don’t want to go back to [the] USSR. We see our future as [a] democratic European country. ”

Known as Dr. Ironfist when he boxed due to his doctorate in sports science, Klitschko is 6 feet 7 ½ inches tall.

His brother Wladimir, five years his junior, was also a world champion and retired in 2017 after winning 64 of his 69 fights and retaining his heavyweight title for more than nine years.

Klitschko is serving his second term as head of Kiev.

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