Former professional boxer Wladimir Klitschko appeals to 'free Europe' to donate to Ukraine

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Wladimir Klitschko, a former professional boxer and brother to Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, called on countries in “free Europe” to donate to Ukraine as Russian forces continued to close in on the capital city.

Ukrainians have been battling to defend major cities that have been attacked by Kremlin-led forces since the invasion began on Feb. 24. The fighting has caused more than 500,000 people to flee their homes, while millions are seeking refuge in bunkers underground.

Wladimir Klitschko took to social media on Monday to make an urgent appeal to European countries to help him defend his country. Speaking in German, he said: “Dear friends in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, all other countries in free Europe: The citizens of Kyiv have had another hellish night. Four million people in my city have not slept.”

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko and his brother, Wladimir Klitschko.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, left, and his brother, former Ukrainian boxer Wladimir Klitschko, at a volunteer-recruitment center in Kyiv on Feb. 2. (Genya Savilov/AFP via Getty Images)

Wladimir Klitschko said the people in Kyiv were “going through hell” and that “we need your help now.” He asked for donations to the National Bank of Ukraine so that the war “does not come knocking on your doors.”

This is not the first appeal from the former heavyweight boxer. On Saturday, he called on the world to “act now” and take decisive action to end the war.

“There is no time to wait, because that’s going to lead to a humanitarian catastrophe,” he said in the video appeal. “You need to act now to stop Russian aggression with anything you can have now. In an hour, or by tomorrow, it is going to be too late.”

Western nations have stepped up their aid to Ukraine in recent days. Over the weekend, Germany broke with long-standing policy and announced it would send weapons to the beleaguered nation. The United States, Great Britain, the Netherlands and other NATO member states are also sending weapons. And the European Union hopes to deliver fighter jets to the country.

Ukrainians endured a heavy night of combat on Sunday, with dozens of deaths recorded in the second-largest city, Kharkiv. According to Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko, hundreds of people were wounded and dozens were killed after the city was “massively fired upon" by rockets.

The strikes came on the same day that peace talks began among officials from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus.

Where are Russian forces attacking Ukraine? Check out this explainer from Yahoo Immersive to find out.

Where are Russian forces attacking Ukraine? Check out this explainer from Yahoo Immersive to find out.