When you speak about Ukraine, the world listens.
You are celebrities. When you speak out for freedom against tyranny, your voices echo like no one else’s. When you show the public the terror that is happening to Ukraine, you mobilize the world to act against it. As Ukrainians, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Your support for my country has been – and will remain – critical to ensuring the public sees the atrocities the Russians are committing every day against Ukrainian citizens, children among them. You have seen Bucha, you have seen Mariupol, you have now seen 21st-century carnage in Europe. This carnage has turned Ukraine’s glorious, historic cities into piles of rubble and its churches into mass graves. People see these images and they feel the pain Ukrainians feel. But as the war rages on, the media begins to pay less attention, and the networks slow their coverage of Ukraine, global audiences will lose access to the brutal reality of the war. Life for many around the world will go on.
But we will still be fighting. Brave Ukrainians will every day risk their lives to save their fellow citizens, their country, and their choice for freedom against Putin’s brutal will bent on fulfilling his 20th-century fantasies to erase an entire nation and its citizens from the map and from the future. But the Ukrainian spirit cannot be erased, not only for Ukrainians but for the entire world. Your support for Ukraine ensures this.
This is why we plead with you, world celebrities, to keep doing what you’re doing. Especially as time marches on. Please continue to call attention to Ukraine so that American society and others around the world do not lose touch with the war that rages on a continent away. Although they may not see the carnage, they will know the terror and destruction the Russians are sowing in Ukraine day after day.
It is not just for a faraway public that we make this plea. It is for Ukrainians too. Your support and acknowledgment of our sorrow fills us with pride and motivates us to keep fighting. Putin believes that the U.S. and the West will soon lose interest in Ukraine. He is betting on this. But with your understanding and support, we will ensure he loses this bet.
International celebrities have amplified and engaged all parts of Ukrainian society to aid our country. Through diverse channels and initiatives, you are playing a critical role. And it is not just public opinion you are influencing. Celebrities are affecting U.S. policy toward Ukraine – making it stronger and more robust. Whether via social media posts, television appearances, or work with charity organizations, government agencies, international organizations, businesses, or grassroots organizations, you have helped to integrate these sectors and become a force multiplier in raising awareness and pushing for action and support for Ukraine.
The collective influence of celebrities is shaping the narrative on Ukraine. You are helping to ensure the U.S. and Europe deliver weapons and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine that is saving lives and bringing Ukraine closer to victory every day.
As Russia unleashed its war, Sean Penn was in Ukraine filming a documentary about Ukraine. Just a day before the Russians invaded, he was sitting across from President Zelenskyy in the President’s office with all the formalities of a Presidential visit. A day later, the world changed, and with it, Sean Penn’s mission in my country. We will never forget how he wanted to take up arms against Russia and fight with our Ukrainian soldiers, or that he threatened to smelt his Oscars if President Zelenskyy was not invited to the Oscars. Sean Penn’s commitment to Ukraine continues to inspire a nation at war, as do all the celebrities who are supporting Ukraine.
Arnold Schwarzenegger took to Twitter to speak directly to the Russian people just after the Russians invaded. He pleaded with them to see the truth about Putin’s brutal and unprovoked war. Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher also were among the first to respond to our grief, raising millions to support refugees. John Legend raised the awareness of the American people when he devoted his song at the Grammy Awards to Ukraine, as did all those who performed at the Global Citizen event co-hosted by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, including U2, Madonna, Alanis Morissette, Billie Eilish, Billy Joel, Chris Rock, Céline Dion, Hugh Jackman, Green Day, Demi Lovato, Elton John, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Gloria Steinem, the Jonas Brothers, Katy Perry, and many more.
Designers like Demna Gvasalia made the fashion world aware of our fight for freedom. Bono and The Edge, his U2 bandmate, performed in a Kyiv subway station on May 8 for those who have taken refuge underground for over two months, and with no end in sight. People will remember these performances and what they – you – stand for.
You are also deeply involved in supporting organizations working in a humanitarian capacity in Ukraine. Liev Schreiber and Angelina Jolie have visited Ukraine and devoted their time, personal energy, and star power to draw attention to the lifesaving work these organizations are doing in Ukraine and for refugee communities throughout Europe. Benedict Cumberbatch is hosting a refugee family. Very soon, Elon’s brother Kimbal Musk will also visit Ukraine to share through his eyes the plight of all Ukrainians.
You have shown Ukraine to the world. You have helped to drive the political debate in the U.S., Europe, and throughout international organizations like the UN. We are eternally grateful to you for acting in so many unique and heartfelt ways. Although Ukrainians fight for their country and countrymen, we also fight for all those who want the freedom to live in a democratic world. You know this. You are sharing this with the world when it is so desperately needed.
Andriy Yermak is Head of the Presidential Office of Ukraine