BERLIN (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko urged his country’s allies to consider boycotting the 2018 soccer World Cup in Russia if Moscow does not pull all its troops out of his territory, in a German newspaper interview published on Monday.
Poroshenko told Bild he preferred to keep soccer and politics separate but this was not possible when Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk was having to play 1,200 km (750 miles) away in Lviv because Donetsk was occupied by pro-Russian separatists.
“I think there has to be discussion of a boycott of this World Cup. As long as there are Russian troops in Ukraine, I think a World Cup in that country is unthinkable,” said Poroshenko, who was in Berlin on an official visit on Monday.
The Ukrainian president said he would ask Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel to push for tougher sanctions on Russia because of what he described as repeated separatist violations of the ceasefire which she helped broker last month.
He was also going to ask the chancellor for more non-lethal military aid for Ukraine’s forces, such as bullet-proof vests.
“We need more to be able to defend ourselves and protect our soldiers. We need radar reconnaissance, drones, radio and night-vision equipment. I am going to talk to the Chancellor about this,” said Poroshenko.
“It’s not about weapons of attack -- we don’t want to attack anyone,” he added.
Reporting by Stephen Brown; Editing by Andrew Heavens