(Reuters) – Alex Ovechkin, the Russian captain of the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals, called for peace on Friday following his native country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ovechkin, speaking to reporters for the first time since Russia launched a full-scale invasion on Ukraine early on Thursday, said he does not want anyone to be killed or hurt and hopes the conflict ends quickly.
“Please, no more war,” Moscow-born Ovechkin, who still has family in Russia, said after the Capitals’ practice. “It doesn’t matter who is in the war — Russia, Ukraine, different countries — I think we live in a world like, we have to live in peace.”
After invading earlier this week, Russian forces pressed their advance on Friday as missiles pounded Kyiv and authorities said they were girding for an assault aimed at overthrowing the government.
Ovechkin, one of the most prolific goal scorers in NHL history, has been a known supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin and when asked whether that remains the case the three-time Olympian reiterated his call for peace.
“Well, he is my president. But… I am not in politics. I am an athlete and …. I hope everything is going to be done soon,” said Ovechkin, a three-times NHL Most Valuable Player who won a Stanley Cup in 2018.
“It’s hard situation right now for both sides and everything. Everything I hope is going to end. I’m not in control of this situation.”
Ovechkin said the conflict was a cause for concern.
“Obviously, it’s a hard situation,” said Ovechkin. “I have lots of friends in Russia and Ukraine and it’s hard to see the war. I hope soon it’s going to be over and there’s going to be peace in the whole world.”
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar)