Andriy Shevchenko urges the world not to forget Ukraine: ‘The cold is coming. Russia will try to hit our energy’

Almost two years into Russia’s devastating invasion, one of Ukraine’s most famous exports is desperate to keep shining a light on his country’s plight, writes Lawrence Ostlere, as global attention shifts to the Middle East

Monday 20 November 2023 10:36 GMT
<p>Andriy Shevchenko visits the ruined centre of Borodyanka, near Kyiv</p>

Andriy Shevchenko visits the ruined centre of Borodyanka, near Kyiv

On the morning of 24 February 2022 – a date etched in every Ukrainian’s mind – Andriy Shevchenko was woken by a phone call from his mother. She told him through tears that Russia was invading. Shevchenko was in London, where he lives with his wife and four sons; his mother and wider family were in Ukraine, under attack.

Shevchenko has barely slept ever since. “It’s almost impossible,” he says. “It’s going to be almost two years since the full war started, and every day I wake up, check the phone – what’s the news? Are we going to be attacked in Kyiv? Are we going to be attacked in a different city? How many drones? How many rockets? Where have the rockets hit? And then, talking to my friends – who’s dead? It’s a normal day for us.”

Shevchenko is using his platform as one of Europe’s greatest footballers, a Ballon d’Or winner and a Chelsea cult hero to keep the spotlight on Ukraine at a time when the world’s attention has turned to the Middle East. In the West, the initial shock caused by Russia’s invasion has subsided, and a sense of normalisation has crept in. He is understandably worried that Ukraine’s cause might be forgotten.

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