Vasily Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk—two of the best active boxers in Ukraine—have released statements regarding Russia’s invasion of their homeland.
WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk posted a video Thursday confirming that he had returned to Ukraine while addressing critics who claimed the boxer “ran away” when the invasion took place.
“Some wrote to me that I ran away; I didn’t,” Usky said. “I was at work but I’m back, I’m home. Friends, we have to unite because it’s a hard time right now and I’m really emotional and worry about my country, and our people.
“Friends, we have to stop this war; all of us together,” he added in his Instagram video, which was accompanied by the caption “NO WAR.”
Unlike Usyk, Lomachenko reportedly left Ukraine for Greece to seek “refuge at a local monastery.” He later posted a statement on Instagram accompanied by an anti-war artwork depicting two hands painted in the colors of the Russian and Ukrainian flags with the outline of a dove in the background.
“Prayer for the peace of the whole world and the enlightenment of the peoples of the earth,” Lomachenko wrote in the accompanying caption.
On the morning of Feb. 24, Russian president Vladimir Putin announced in a televised speech that he had approved a “special military operation” in eastern Ukraine, insisting that Russia’s goal was not to occupy Ukraine but the “demilitarization” and “denazification” of its government.
However, despite Putin’s statement that the operation would take place in eastern Ukraine, several areas throughout Ukraine were targeted by missile strikes, which prompted thousands of Ukrainians to flee the capital.
According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, at least 137 civilians and military personnel have been killed so far in the Russian invasion.