Participating in sports events with leaders from other countries helps create relations of trust, President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with the Rossiya broadcaster, referring to him earlier hitting the ice with Belarusian and Finnish counterparts Alexander Lukashenko and Sauli Niinisto, respectively.
“Like any sport, it [hockey] should be free from politics. It brings people together and creates trust-based relations between people. It always helps”, Putin stressed when asked whether such “hockey diplomacy” is beneficial.
Commenting on the Legends of Hockey team’s victories in the Night Hockey League match, the Russian President underscored that “this is a team of hockey stars rather than Putin’s squad”.
“It’s easy to play with them, they are brilliant players who have more than once won world champions, Olympic games and Stanley Cup. They are real stars and it is logical that they gain victories”, Putin pointed out.
Putin made the remarks shortly after he scored eight goals in a gala match at the Night Hockey League at the Sochi Bolshoi Arena, where the Legends of Hockey team beat their rivals 14-7.
In February, he stepped onto an ice rink in Sochi together with Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko and his son, Nikolai, in a gala match of the Night Hockey League which was launched as an initiative of the Russian president in 2011.