Former Arsenal defender Oleg Luzhny has revealed it was an “easy decision” for him to return to Ukraine to defend his country amid Russian aggression.
The 53-year-old, who also played in the Premier League for Wolverhampton Wanderers, has been away from his family in Kyiv and has opened up about the “very tough” situation. He has joined Ukraine’s territorial defence forces as the war continues, with Russian troops advancing on the city of Mariupol.
Vladimir Putin’s Russian troops are reportedly prepared for a “long war” of attrition, while hospitals in Ukraine are continuing to fill up as injuries and deaths mount. However, Luzhny was in no doubt as to his decision.
“The situation now in Ukraine is very, very tough, because of… our Russian neighbour,” Luzhny, whose wife has stayed with him while his children are away at their jobs in London and Zurich, told Sky Sports. “Everyone is surprised about this situation. And the situation is very dangerous.
“The Russians have destroyed a lot of houses, business centres, roads as well. Sometimes the missiles are coming two or three times during the days, and at midnight as well. It is not a good situation, very very dangerous.
“It was an easy decision [to join the territorial defence forces] because I love this country. I want to fight with my friends to stay and fight [against] the Russian army.”
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Luzhny has spent time as interim manager of Dynamo Kyiv, as well as serving as an assistant during Alyaksandr Khatskevich’s time in charge of the club, but has put his coaching career on hold to join the fight. “Everyone has to fight. You have to fight for your country. It was an easy decision,” he continued, before explaining his specific role.
“We have, in our group, of five or six people, and some policemen. And we have a special area we walk around for 12 hours, every two or three days.
“It’s hard of course. It’s difficult, but I am okay. There has been a lot of damage to our country. Here in Kyiv it’s okay, not too much. But more in Kharkiv, in Mariupol, it is much harder.
“All my friends are staying to fight,” he continued. “No one is leaving. I don’t know when I will see my family again. When this war ends, after we win and we have a good party.
“I don’t know if we will have peace soon. The situation is not under control. Nobody knows what Putin has in his brain.
“We don’t panic. We are strong inside. We have a good spirit inside. Our soldiers are fantastic. They are not scared of the Russians.
“The Russians are scared of us now. Because they are going back home now. We have good positive feelings.”