Should We Expect Russian Athletes with Family Back in Russia to Criticize Putin? | National Review

Should We Expect Russian Athletes with Family Back in Russia to Criticize Putin? | National Review

Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

One of the many reasons a responsible leader attempts to prevent war is that once it starts, the leader can control very little of what happens. War stirs anger and rage, often justified; one side’s outrageous attack upon civilians triggers the desire to lash out at any convenient target in the opposition.

The U.S. did not start this war, and is, at least for now, not a participant. But we’re already seeing Americans who want to lash out, and they’re picking awful, illogical targets for their anger.

The vandalism of the Russia House restaurant in Washington, D.C., is a good example of this phenomenon. The high-end Russian-cuisine restaurant is owned by a U.S. company and had been closed for nearly two years because of the pandemic. The owners and staff are not involved with the invasion of Ukraine; they’re not even Russian!

Nor does it do any good to give any grief to Russian hockey players here in North America. Russian athletes didn’t make the decision to invade, and while they have some ability to influence public opinion in Russia, we are not a handful of NHL players away from deposing Vladimir Putin and ending the war.

I can understand if some readers might want to make an exception for Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin, a longtime fan and friend of Putin. For what it is worth, this week Ovechkin offered vaguely critical comments, saying “please, no more war.”

But just about every Russian athlete playing outside of Russia has family back in the country, and Ovechkin is no exception — his wife and young children still live in Russia, 90 minutes from Moscow. I would prefer to see Ovechkin come out and offer a full-throated denunciation of Putin and the invasion, but it is easy to see why he would hesitate.

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.