Russian-born NHL player Alex Ovechkin has expressed his hope for an end to hostilities after Russia invaded Ukraine.
“I would say it’s a hard situation,” the Washington Capitals left wing said at a Friday news conference. “I have lots of friends in Russia and Ukraine. And, it’s hard to see another war. I hope it’s soon going to be over and there’s going to be peace in the whole world.”
Ovechkin has been careful to show his support of both countries as Russian-American relations have soured in recent years, but when pressed about his friendship with and previous support of Russian President Vladimir Putin at a Friday news conference, he took a neutral stance.
“Well, he’s my president. But, how I said, I’m not in politics. I’m an athlete,” Ochevkin replied. “How I said, hope everything’s going to be done soon. It’s a hard situation right now for both sides. Everything, like how I said, everything I hope is going to be end, and I’m not in control of situation.”
Ovechkin is among many Russian ice hockey players skating for American teams, from the junior levels to the pros.
The 36-year-old former first-round draft pick has scored over 1,300 points in his 17-year professional career with the Capitals, the fourth Russian-born player in the league to cross the 1,000-point mark.
He stressed his desire to see the conflict end, and that people on both sides would stay safe.
“Please, no more war,” he urged. “Doesn’t matter who’s 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.”
CNN’s David Close contributed to this report.