Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s embattled president, criticized Conor McGregor during a meeting with senior Irish politicians.
During a 45-minute meeting with Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl and Seanad Cathaoirleach Mark Daly in Kyiv last weekend, Zelensky informed the Irish delegation that he was once a fan of the former two-division UFC champion but changed his opinion after McGregor met with Russian president Vladimir Putin several years ago.
“He felt he wasn’t being supportive of Ukraine,” Mr Daly said. “This man is fighting a war but he knows what’s going on all around the world, including in Ireland.”
McGregor’s meeting with Putin took place during the 2018 World Cup final between France and Croatia, which took place in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium. McGregor tweeted a photo of himself with his arm around Putin and revealed that he had been invited as a guest of the Russian president.
“This man is one of the greatest leaders of our time,” McGregor said of Putin on social media, following France’s 4-2 win. “I was honoured to attend such a landmark event alongside him.”
McGregor ended his social media post with a Cyrillic phrase that translates to “Go, Russia.” A little more than a year later, McGregor returned to Russia to promote his Proper Twelve Irish whiskey brand. During the press conference, the Irishman revealed that he gifted Putin the “very first bottle” of Proper Twelve during the World Cup, though he was unable to have a drink with the Russian president because his security team confiscated the bottle to have it tested for toxic ingredients.
A spokesperson for McGregor told Irish media that he “often takes photographs with event hosts” and that “this photograph was years ago”.
Despite Zelensky’s distaste for McGregor, the Ukrainian leader was happy to praise U2 singer Bono in the wake of his recent visit to the war-torn capital city where he sang in a subway station before later meeting Zelensky.