Alexander Ovechkin addressed the events of this past week on Friday, offering his first public statement on the military attack that his home country of Russia launched against Ukraine on Wednesday.
Ovechkin described the attack as a “hard situation”, stating that he has friends in both Russia and Ukraine while emphasizing that he does not have control over the country’s military actions. The Russian winger also said that he hoped the conflict would soon be over and that there will be “peace in both countries”.
When asked directly if he supports the attack, Ovechkin chose his words carefully.
“I’m Russian, right?” he said to reporters on hand ahead of the Capitals’game tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers
“I don’t control this one”
Ovechkin’s thoughts on the matter are important for a number of reasons, with him being perhaps the most famous hockey player in the country’s history, but are particularly notable given his history of public support for Russian President Vladimir Putin, the man behind the attack.
“Please, no more war. 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 and a great world,” Ovechkin said.
When asked if he supports Putin today, Ovechkin offered a far more diplomatic answer, saying “He’s my President, but I’m not in politics. I’m an athlete.”
In 2017, Ovechkin was linked to PutinTeam.ru to rally support for the Russian president among the public. According to TSN’s Rick Westhead, the website has not been updated in several years, and traffic has dipped to below 5,000 visitors per month, the majority of which come from those stationed in Russia.