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    Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin breaks silence on Russia-Ukraine conflict: ‘No more war’

    Capitals' Alex Ovechkin breaks silence on Russia-Ukraine conflict: 'No more war'
    Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin (8), shown Jan. 11, 2020, has been an avid supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin over the years. File Photo by Alex Edelman/UPI | License Photo

    Feb. 25 (UPI) — Washington Capitals star winger Alex Ovechkin pleaded for peace in Europe on Friday in his first public comments since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this week.

    “Please, no more war. It doesn’t matter who is in the war — Russia, Ukraine, different countries — we have to live in peace,” Ovechkin said after the Capitals’ practice.

    The 36-year-old Ovechkin has been an avid supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin over the years. In 2017, the NHL star campaigned on behalf of Putin by orchestrating a social media movement called Putin Team, writing, “I never made a secret of my attitude toward our president, always openly supporting him.”

    When asked Friday whether he supports the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ovechkin responded: “I’m Russian, right? It’s not something I can control. It’s not in my hands. I hope it’s going to end soon and there’s going to be peace in both countries. I don’t control this one.”

    Ovechkin, whose Instagram profile picture features him posing with Putin, said the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is a “hard situation” for him.

    “Obviously, it’s a hard situation. I have lots of friends in Russia and Ukraine, and it’s hard to see the war,” he said. “I hope soon it’s going to be over and there’s going to be peace in the whole world.”

    Ovechkin’s wife, children and parents have been in Moscow. He declined to confirm whether his family will remain in Russia.

    “I have family back in Russia. It’s scary moments,” Ovechkin said. “We can’t do anything. We just hope it’s going to end soon and everyone’s going to be all right. … I pay attention to what’s happening out there.

    “I don’t want to see nobody get hurt or get killed. I hope it’s going to be over and we’re going to live in a good world.”

    Ovechkin has said in the past that he has a strong relationship with Putin, who is an ardent hockey fan and player. Ovechkin has supported Putin while claiming that support isn’t politically based.

    “He’s my president. But like I said, I’m not in politics. I’m an athlete,” Ovechkin said. “I hope everything is going to be done soon. It’s a hard situation right now for both sides.”

    Ovechkin, widely considered one of the greatest goal scorers in league history, has captured the Hart Memorial Trophy three times as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player. He is a 12-time All-Star selection and won the Stanley Cup in 2018.

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