New Delhi: A former world champion boxer and one of Ukraine’s most celebrated sportspersons, Wladimir Klitschko is confident that his country will remain strong amid the military escalation with Russia that has caused global turmoil.

The 45-year-old great, a former Olympic gold-medallist and someone who held the world heavyweight championship twice in the professional circuit, took to Twitter to send out a message of solidarity for his compatriots as Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the launch of a military operation in eastern Ukraine.

“Be sure: Ukraine is strong! It has a strong capital #Kyiv, strong cities, villages and a strong solid and united people who value above all their independence, sovereignty and peace in Europe. Its WILL to exist is infinite. Glory to Ukraine!” tweeted the great, who was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2021.

Earlier this month, he signed up as a reserve in Ukraine’s territorial forces.

“Democracy and freedom have no price…Ukraine wants peace, freedom, and sovereignty,” he had stated at that time.

“I signed up as a reserve for the territorial forces, for defending the city of Kyiv. Because of everything that is currently going on around Ukraine. The aggression from the Russian side.”

His younger brother Vitali Klitschko, also a former world champion, is the mayor of Kyiv.

Even more scathing in his assessment of the conflict was chess great Garry Kasparov, who is now a politician and a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Every dollar in trade with Russia since he invaded Ukraine in 2014, every Euro of corrupt deals with his cronies, helped Putin build the war machine he is using to slaughter civilians in Europe today,” Kasparov tweeted after the launch of the military operation by Russia.

The 58-year-old Kasparov left Russia in 2014 citing fear of persecution and currently lives in Croatia. Kasparov held the world number one ranking from 1984 until his retirement in 2005, a record 255 months overall.

“Now you must help Ukraine fight against the monster you helped create,” he said.

“There’s no going back in time, but I hope those who ignored, downplayed, and appeased Putin for so long feel some shame today. Enough at least to do everything possible to stop him now.”

At an emergency meeting of United Nations Security Council in New York, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres appealed to Putin to “stop your troops from attacking Ukraine.”

While this session was in progress, the Russian leader announced the launch of his country’s military operation.

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