Kyiv mayor proud of citizens’ resolve but uncertain about longevity

Kyiv mayor proud of citizens’ resolve but uncertain about longevity

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The mayor of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, is unshaken despite the fact that Russian forces are attempting to besiege the city, he said in an interview.

Mayor Vitali Klitschko, also a retired professional boxer, said he is beaming with pride as his city survives the Russian onslaught, which has entered its 5th day, but he knows its citizenry cannot hold out forever.

Klitschko, like President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has no plans to evacuate the city.

“We can’t do that, because all ways are blocked,” he told the Associated Press. “All ways are blocked and right now we are encircled — everywhere is Russians and we don’t have a way to evacuate the people. And everyone who had plans to evacuate himself already moved.”

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After Russian propaganda outlets used the mayor’s words to suggest they were winning, the mayor denied the reports.

Vitali Klitschko, Kyiv Mayor and former heavyweight champion gestures while speaking during his interview with the Associated Press in his office in the City Hall in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022. 

Vitali Klitschko, Kyiv Mayor and former heavyweight champion gestures while speaking during his interview with the Associated Press in his office in the City Hall in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022.  (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

“In the evening, Russian Internet publications spread information with reference to me that Kyiv is allegedly surrounded and evacuation of people is impossible. … Do not believe lies! Trust information only from official sources,” he said on his Telegram channel.

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Over the weekend, Klitschko extended a city-wide curfew from 5 p.m. until 8 a.m., until at least Monday morning, as Ukrainian military forces in the city are looking to push back on Russian forces. The former curfew ran from 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

“We are hunting these people, and it will be much easier if nobody is on the street,” Klitschko added, claiming that Ukrainian forces killed six Russian saboteurs Saturday night.

Heavyweight boxing champion, turned Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko, talks to AFP journalists at his office in Kyiv on February 10, 2022. 

Heavyweight boxing champion, turned Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko, talks to AFP journalists at his office in Kyiv on February 10, 2022.  (Photo by SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

“We show our character, our knowledge, our values,” the mayor continued. “To be honest, we don’t have 100% control. We built this territorial defense (system) in a short amount of time — but these are patriotic people.”

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The city is holding out, with food and supplies, but the “humanitarian catastrophe” is worsening, he said, as “the infrastructure is destroyed to deliver food and medication.”

Vitali Klitschko, Kyiv Mayor and former heavyweight champion gestures while speaking during his interview with the Associated Press in his office in the City Hall in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022.

Vitali Klitschko, Kyiv Mayor and former heavyweight champion gestures while speaking during his interview with the Associated Press in his office in the City Hall in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

“That’s why the message for everyone is to support Ukraine together … we are strong,” he added. “Every Ukrainian is proud to be independent, proud to be Ukrainian, and we are proud to have our own country.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.