8 Jul 2024

Children’s hospital attack ‘genocide of Ukrainian population’, says Kyiv Mayor Klitschko

We spoke to the Mayor of Kviv, Vitali Klitschko, and started by asking him what he had recently witnessed at the hospital.

Vitali Klitschko: We don’t know exactly the numbers of people killed because we tried to save people from the rubble of the buildings because we listen to the voices of the people under the rubble.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: When you see an attack on a children’s hospital and you saw the children down there, how did you feel?

Vitali Klitschko: How’s it feel? Listen, it’s the Russians who try to explain and try to make excuses. By the way, war has some rules. Never touch children. Old people. Women. And the horrible images from Bucha two years ago shocked the whole world. And right now again the whole world was shocked. It’s not war. It’s not the special operation. It’s genocide of the Ukrainian population.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: Why do you think Russia has done this now? This is the week of the Nato summit. There is a new government in London. There is a new government being formed in France. Do you think these things are linked?

Vitali Klitschko: Russians understand just the power. That’s a strong position. That’s why we Ukrainians have to be strong and, I guess it’s some signal. But I think this signal just united people. Because every normal person around the world understands, this war is a senseless war. It’s Putin wanting to rebuild the Russian empire and he is looking to Ukraine as part of the Russian empire. And we Ukrainians right now are fighting for our democratic future. We see our homeland as part of the European family. We don’t want to be back in the USSR.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: What do you want from Nato this week?

Vitali Klitschko: Many experts around the world gave us a couple of days, maybe a couple of weeks. We are already in the third year of successful defence of our homeland against one of the biggest and strongest armies in the world, the Russian army. And, we are very good, motivated, and we need support with modern weapons. With defensive weapons. Defensive. Because we have to defend our homeland.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: Can I ask you, in this country, in France and in America, there are politicians on the rise who are sceptical about helping Ukraine, and they think that Europe in some way provoked the Russian invasion. What is your message to those politicians?

Vitali Klitschko: Please never, ever underestimate the Russians. We listen to voices from Moscow about Baltic countries. Putin told the Baltic countries were part of the Soviet empire. Well, this is exactly the same voice about Poland. Poland was a part of the Russian empire, and I spent a big time of my life in Germany. I tell the Germans, please never underestimate the Russians, because in Putin’s sick vision, part of Germany is also the part of the Russian empire where Putin spent years as a KGB agent. And that’s why it’s a challenge, it’s a war not just against Ukraine, it’s an international war. We need support. And you support not just Ukraine. We’re defending right now every one of you. Because Russians will go as far as we allow them to go.