Under enormous security precautions, Wladimir Klitschko attended the Digital X in Cologne, Europe’s largest event for digitization, where Klitschko has been a guest for years. In an interview with selected journalists, he talks about life in Ukraine.
FOCUS online: Mr. Klitschko, why are you here today?
Wladimir Klitschko: I came to Germany from the Ukraine yesterday. Deutsche Telekom gave us tremendous support in Ukraine. Communication is everything in a war. It was incredibly important to have that support. It is incredibly important that Ukraine is supported not only with words but also with deeds.
FOCUS online: Ursula von der Leyen recently said that Putin will lose this war – what do you think of that?
Klitschko: The aggressor will not win. Putin wants to wipe out Ukraine. What is happening there is genocide. The more support we get, the sooner this senseless war will end. There hasn’t been a war like this since the end of World War II.
FOCUS online: The EU wants to pay 100 billion euros for reconstruction. What role does the EU play in reconstruction?
Klitschko : An enormous one. It would be incredibly important that one day Ukraine would have true access [to the EU]. We are the largest country in Europe and we are a rich country with our natural resources and 45 million people. And Ukraine is incredibly important geopolitically.
FOCUS online: There is good news in terms of land gains, but at the same time there are also findings that torture was used. What is the mood?
Klitschko : When you’re an outsider, it’s completely different than when you’re on Ukrainian soil. There you have to reckon with being hit by a rocket every second. We cannot yet judge whether that was the breakthrough in this war. We want the end of the war to come very soon. We still have a lot to fight for. By we I mean the Ukrainians on the front line, but also all the Europeans. If we fall, so will you. We’re all in the same boat.
FOCUS online: How do you currently interpret the status?
Klitschko : We’re losing our people and we’re not getting them back. Please don’t forget: We have five nuclear power plants. It is still a great danger for the world and Europe with consequences for the next 1000 years.
FOCUS online: Have you seen suffering yourself?
Klitschko: Everything you see on the news has happened… there are stories of good and bad luck. At the end of March things looked bad in Kyiv and the surrounding area. I didn’t expect that I could be in Germany today.
FOCUS online: Does it still make sense to talk to Putin?
Klitschko: I’m talking about a senseless war. And Vladimir Putin started it. One should try to stop this war by any means. But does it make sense to talk to Putin? He was threatened with consequences. But only the Ukrainians are feeling the real consequences.
FOCUS online: What could a peace solution look like?
Klitschko : All Russian soldiers and their equipment must leave Ukraine. As agreed in the early 1990s.
FOCUS online: What role can Germany play?
Klitschko : We depend on help and support. I sense that German society is getting tired after half a year of war. But we’re in the same boat. Germany must support Ukraine. We are a rich country. One day Germany will benefit in the long term from this short-term help.
FOCUS online: How do you perceive the sympathy of the German population?
Klitschko : I want to say a big thank you to the Germans. To the people who donated. Food, medicine, humanitarian aid. military equipment. Endurance beats talent, I say in sports. And that’s why I’m asking the Germans for perseverance.
FOCUS online: Can the old Europe exist again?
Klitschko: No. The world is different. We have to learn from this so that a war like this doesn’t happen again. Those who have too much power for too long often suffer as a result. You see that with Putin.