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Ukraine footballer prepared to risk career to fight war against Russia

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By Martin Graham | 26th Feb 2022

Sporting Gijon footballer Vasyl Kravets spoke with Spanish outlet Marca on Friday and talked about his desire to join the Ukrainian forces as they fight against Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered his forces to invade Ukraine over political differences on Thursday morning. As a result many facets of life have suffered in Ukraine including football.

The Ukrainian Premier League has been on break since the winter window and the new situation has prevented them from resuming normal activities.

Many foreign nationals are stranded in Ukraine who have shut off their airspace as a result of invasion threats from Russia. Ukrainians can not get in nor can foreigners get out.

This has led to widespread worry across the world from Ukrainians living outside Ukraine, and Sporting Gijon star Kravets has spoken up on the issue.

The defender claims he is willing to suspend his football career to fight alongside his country’s armed forces. He has been excused from training with his teammates for a mental health break by his club and took the time to speak to Marca about the situation.

“They are killing people, civilians, in hospitals. It’s all Putin’s fault, I don’t want to say it’s Russia’s fault, but Putin’s,” Kravets told Marca.

“We are a country that wants to live in peace. We don’t want to attack anyone, we want to live well and calm. I tell the truth: I want to go to war and help my people.

“But I can’t help because I don’t know how to shoot, how to move, how to reload a gun, but the truth is that I want to help.

“If I could go, I would – to defend my country. It is obligatory for the heart of Ukrainians.”

Kravets highlights terror faced by family and other Ukrainians as Russian invasion continues

Kravets, 24, moved to Spain in 2017 to sign for CD Lugo. Since then, he joined Leganes and was sent out on loan to Gijon for the 2021/22 season.

Kravets says he is ready to stand arm-in-arm with Ukrainian soldiers and civilians to fight on the ground in order to protect his homeland from Russian forces.

He spoke about the fears of his family who are still in Ukraine. “Almost all our airports are blocked. If my country needs everyone to defend our country, I’m leaving. I’ll talk to Sporting and I’ll leave,” he said.

“I call and say: ‘cheer up’ and they say ‘thank you’ but I can’t do anything else. And after 30 minutes, I call again.

“I don’t sleep at all. My mother calls me, she hears gunshots. I’m training but I only think about my country, my family…

“My wife cries 8 or 10 times a day, it’s incredible, they are scared to death.”

Meanwhile, foreign players are sending pleas to their nations to help get them out of Ukraine as Russia continues their offensive against the nation.

Russian businesses supporting different football teams and go earning bodies have also faced sanctions as partnerships are being ended as a result of the invasions.

Martin Graham is an MFF sports writer

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