Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the return of Hollywood leftist Sean Penn to Ukraine on Thursday. Penn and Zelensky met in Kyiv as Russian forces invaded Ukraine. Penn is in Ukraine to film a documentary. Zelensky is grateful for the attention.
Penn was filming the documentary before the war broke out between Ukraine and Russia. His last meeting with Zelensky was in November. At that time, Penn toured the Azov region and spoke with the Ukrainian military on the front lines in Donetsk, a region Putin recognized as independent last week. The documentary is reported to be about the escalating conflict in Ukraine. Penn’s visit Thursday was announced on the Office of the President of Ukraine’s Facebook page.
“American actor and film director, Oscar winner Sean Penn arrived in Ukraine,” read a translated statement from the Office of the President of Ukraine’s Facebook page. “The director came to Kyiv specifically to record all the events taking place in Ukraine as a documentary filmmaker and to tell the world the truth about Russia’s invasion of our country.”
“Today, Sean Penn is among those who support Ukraine in Ukraine,” the statement read. “Our country is grateful to him for such a display of courage and honesty. This morning, the director visited the Office of the President and attended a press briefing by Iryna Vereshchuk, Adviser to the Head of the Office of the Head of State and Vice Prime Minister – Minister for Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine. He talked to journalists, to our military, saw how we defend our country.”
“Sean Penn demonstrates the courage that many others, including Western politicians, lack,” the statement continued. “The more such people in our country now, true friends of Ukraine, who support the struggle for freedom, the sooner it will be possible to stop Russia’s treacherous attack.”
“The director has already arrived in Ukraine in November 2021,” the statement concluded. “As part of the preparation of the documentary, he visited the Azov region and talked with the Ukrainian military.”
My first question is, which side is he on? Penn is famous for his sympathetic narratives about brutal Socialist and Communist leaders like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Cuba’s Castro brothers. Penn is a member in good standing of the Blame America First club for all of the world’s woes. It will be interesting to see how he portrays Zelensky, a former comedian and a democracy-minded leader. In more recent times, Penn got himself involved in the hunt for El Chapo, the Mexican drug lord, who escaped from jail. Penn was invited by El Chapo to meet and El Chapo wanted him to make a movie about his life. Penn helped bring him down. Perhaps he can do the same to Putin – rid the world of having to deal with his evil self.
In the meantime, Zelensky is happy to have him there, bringing attention to the war and Ukraine’s struggle for sovereignty. Penn is doing the documentary for VICE. Zelensky is feeling abandoned by NATO and specifically the United States. He wants as much publicity as possible to spotlight the war and his country in crisis. Penn had dinner with Alexander Rodnyansky, presidential adviser to Zelensky Thursday night in Kyiv.
On a slightly more positive note today in spite of the political and military situation: Exciting, fun and captivating conversation over dinner with @SeanPenn, who came to #Kyiv at this critical moment. #StandWithUkraine pic.twitter.com/GLwoDlrFcg
— Alexander Rodnyansky (@arodnyansky) February 23, 2022
Zelensky previously posted a video on Instagram of the himself and Penn together. Zelensky wrote in a caption: “The more people know about the war in the Ukraine, the higher the likelihood of stopping Russia!”
Celebrities of Ukrainian and Russian descent are speaking out about the war.
“Vikings” star Katheryn Winnick wrote on Instagram that she’s a “proud Ukrainian.”
Stand with Ukraine 🇺🇦 https://t.co/r8DK6Nmq3J
— Katheryn Winnick (@KatherynWinnick) February 16, 2022
Ukranian-born star Maks Chmerkovskiy, a choreographer known for showcasing his talents on “Dancing with the Stars,” revealed on Thursday that he’s currently in his native country and communicated his fear as he planned to head to a bomb shelter.
Chmerkovskiy shared a glimpse of the scene unfolding in the heart of Kyiv, where parents could be seen walking with their children with bags and suitcases, desperate to get out. The “Dancing with the Stars” pro wrote in his caption that he will “never be the same.” He said it’s bringing back “old feelings” from the 1990s when his family left the country.
“This does feel like the way it was when and why we left in the 90s. Like my old PTSD I’ve finally fixed is coming back. I literally only just forgot about those ‘always on the edge’ feelings and actually started worrying about things like bbq grills. I’m crying as I’m typing this because all man deserves to worry about ‘bbq grills’ and not f—ing war.
“Conjuring” actress Vera Farmiga, who has Ukrainian roots, posted to Instagram the country’s flag along with some lyrics from its national anthem. She used the hashtag #IStandWithUkraiine.
Regina Spektor, a Grammy-nominated singer, compared Putin’s actions to the Nazis during World War II in an Instagram post.
“Today my heart hurts because no matter how many great works of art and music (Guernica…. Masters Of War… Most of Okudzhava and Vysotsky… Vonnegut… Remarque… all those films in all those languages…) portray the horrors of war, new Masters of War seem to rise up again in all the nations… Sending new children to slaughter each other,” wrote Spektor, 42, who was born in Moscow before her family left the former Soviet Union for New York City in 1989.
“There were, and still are, real Nazis in the world. But in Ukraine that are just millions of civilians being pulled into a war, and in Russia there are children being sent to fight and die for no reason other than the bottomless and horror filled ‘more more more more more more more’ of politicians and corporations. And it’s terrifying.”
The news is grim for Ukraine today. Kyiv may fall today to Putin’s forces, though Ukrainians aren’t giving up without a fight. Zelensky is in Kyiv though he acknowledges he and his family are the top targets on Putin’s hit list. Putin is determined to take Ukraine and install his own government in Kyiv.