Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin addresses Russia's invasion of Ukraine, pleads for peace: 'No more war'

Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin issued an anti-war statement on Friday in his first comments following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"Please, no more war. It doesn't matter who is in the war -- Russia, Ukraine, different countries -- we have to live in peace," he said following the Capitals' practice.

Ovechkin, 36, has been an ardent supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin over the years. In 2017, he campaigned on behalf of Putin by starting a social media movement called Putin Team, writing, "I never made a secret of my attitude toward our president, always openly supporting him." His Instagram profile photo features him posing with Putin.

When asked Friday whether he supports Russia's invasion of Ukraine this week, Ovechkin said, "I'm Russian, right? It's not something I can control. It's not in my hands. I hope it's going to end soon and there's going to be peace in both countries. I don't control this one."

He said the invasion of Ukraine by Russia is "a hard situation" for him.

"Obviously, it's a hard situation. I have lots of friends in Russia and Ukraine, and it's hard to see the war. I hope soon it's going to be over and there's going to be peace in the whole world," he said.

Ovechkin's wife, children and parents have been in Moscow. Ovechkin wouldn't confirm whether his family will stay in Russia.

"I have family back in Russia. It's scary moments. We can't do anything. We just hope it's going to end soon and everyone's going to be all right," he said.

Ovechkin indicated he had been aware of the run-up to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

"I pay attention to what's happening out there. I don't want to see nobody get hurt or get killed. I hope it's going to be over and we're going to live in a good world."

Ovechkin has said in the past that he has a good relationship with Putin, who is an avid hockey fan and player.

"He respects me as an athlete, and he respects all the athletes who represent the country," Ovechkin said in 2017. "It doesn't matter where you play, in Russia or outside Russia. If you represent country in Olympic Games, world championship or it doesn't matter which tournament, he always [has a] good relationship with us."

In the past, Ovechkin has supported Putin while claiming that support isn't politically based. He struck a similar stance on Friday when asked about that support.

"He's my president. But like I said, I'm not in politics. I'm an athlete. I hope everything is going to be done soon. It's a hard situation right now for both sides," Ovechkin said.