The Russian attack on his country 45 days ago changed everything for ex-Liverpool star and Bundesliga professional Andriy Voronin (42).
The 74-time Ukrainian national player, who once played under coach Jürgen Klopp (54) in Mainz, speaks in the BamS interview about his worst fears – and his great hope.
BILD am SONNTAG: Shortly after the start of the war, you gave up as a trainer at Dynamo Moscow and no longer wanted to work in the country that was bombing your homeland…
ANDRIY VORONIN: That was simply no longer possible for me as a Ukrainian. My father and I got out of Moscow via Amsterdam, my wife later made it via Istanbul. We’re lucky, we don’t have to flee anymore. Don’t stand in a train station somewhere with two bags. My whole family is here in the Rhineland. Our house is not threatened by bombs. It’s just unusually full of father, mother-in-law. We had taken in four other Ukrainians.
BILD am SONNTAG: Millions of Ukrainians are fleeing. Germany has also taken in hundreds of thousands.
VORONIN: I am grateful to Germany. It’s great how people help of their own accord. We also collected relief supplies here – from clothing and medicine to dog food. That’s great in Germany – if only it weren’t so complicated in the offices. There’s a lot of ambiguity there. And my children (Andriy jr., Sonja and Daniel/d. R.) are not yet allowed to go to high school here – although they have been to a German school in Moscow until the end, they have a German passport.
BILD am SONNTAG: How do you stand the pictures of Russian war crimes?
VORONIN: When I see the pictures from Mariupol or, most recently, Bucha, I could cry. My day begins with war news. And I go to bed with it. I’ve seen films about World War II. But something like that – women, men just thrown out on the street. Horror, you can never forgive something like that! There are moments when I think none of this is true and I wake up. All those horrible pictures. And then it becomes painfully clear to me: It’s all true – and that in the year 2022.
BILD am SONNTAG: You come from Odessa. Rockets are also falling in the port city in south-west Ukraine. Do you think you will see your hometown again? That the war will end soon?
VORONIN: I really hope so. It would mean that the dying would stop. I can’t and don’t want to imagine it going on like this for years. In two or three months, all our cities could look like Mariupol now. Extinguished. But I know that my country, my people will never give up!
BILD am SONNTAG: How can this war ever end?
VORONIN: Only the person who started it knows that. But he probably doesn’t know that himself.
BILD am SONNTAG: Do you fear that Putin will use even worse weapons?
VORONIN: What can I say? Two months ago I didn’t believe that Russia would really attack my country like that – after the experience in Crimea and Donbass. But it happened. That’s why I can’t rule out that Putin might even use chemical or nuclear weapons. I don’t know if he will stop. Whether Ukraine is enough for him or whether he will also bring the war to Germany.
BILD am SONNTAG: You have many Russian friends. Do you accuse them of doing little or nothing against the war?
VORONIN: My friends are not the ones who are committing these terrible crimes in Ukraine.
BILD am SONNTAG: But most Russians remain silent about the crimes. It is said that almost 80 percent are in favor of this war. All victims of fake news and demagogic state media?
VORONIN: I hope that’s the cause. Because no normal person can find a war good. It can’t be acceptable to any sane mind that men, women, children, grannies die.
BILD am SONNTAG: There are Russian athletes like ex-boxer Nikolai Valuyev who publicly support Putin’s war.
VORONIN: They should just shut up. I can understand that people in Russia are afraid to say anything. Because normally it doesn’t change anything and you can go to prison for 15 years. But then please don’t start spreading lies yourself. Then just keep quiet.
BILD am SONNTAG: Even if sport is just a minor matter: Do you want to work in football again in Germany?
VORONIN: Nobody knows what’s going to happen next. The championship will be over here in May. We will see. Right now it’s about my family. If I could wish for something: I want to go to Odessa in the summer. To my mom’s grave. On the first anniversary of her death.