Ukraine-Russia crisis: How celebrities are reacting to the conflict

Celebrities from around the world have reacted to the escalating crisis in eastern Europe, after Russia announced a “full-scale invasion” of Ukraine.

On Thursday (24 February), Russian president Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” in the east of the country.

Russia’s actions have been met with condemnation from world leaders around the globe. Countries, including the US and UK, have announced sanctions against Russia.

The unfolding crisis has prompted reactions from celebrities including Stephen King, Piers Morgan, and Cardi B – some more sensitive and appropriate than others.

the good

“What most of us learned as kids on the playground: You don’t stand by while a big kid beats up a little kid,” King wrote in a widely-shared post on Twitter. “You might take a punch or two making the big kid stop, but that’s the right thing to do.”

Cardi B tweeted: “Wish these world leaders [would] stop tripping about power and really think about who’s really getting affected (citizens) besides the whole world is in a crisis. War, sanctions, invasions should be the last thing these leaders should worry about.”

form good morning britain presenter Morgan wrote on the morning of 24 February: “This is an act of war by a bully-boy thug who doesn’t think the rest of the world has the guts or will to stop him… Shameful.”

On Instagram, Annie Lennox wrote: “What kind of ‘price’ must ordinary people pay for the nightmarish madness and brutality of ‘invasion’ and ‘warfare’? Or is this just an elaborate hoax? A scare tactic? A threat?

“Apologies for this dark reflection, but I’ve had the privilege of living in a ‘peaceful’ context since I was born – a decade after the end of WW2 – 67 years in total. I don’t take this for granted in any way and therefore find the notion of ‘war’ to be unacceptable repugnant barbarism.”

Moscow-born Grammy-nominated singer Regina Spektor condemned Putin’s actions and “the horrors of war” in an Instagram post.

Alongside a picture of a younger Spektor, taken in erstwhile USSR on the “day WWII ended for us”, the 42-year-old wrote: “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…”

Miley Cyrus, who filmed her 2019 music video for “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart” in Ukraine, wrote on Twitter: “This morning was heartbreaking waking up to the news that Ukraine had been invaded.

“I had the most incredible experience filming ‘Nothing Breaks Like A Heart’ in Kyiv and will be forever grateful to the local community who welcomed me with open arms.”

She said she is “standing in solidarity with everyone in Ukraine”.

Leading Hollywood stars Brian Cox and Michael Keaton delivered messages of support for Ukraine at the Screen Actors Guild awards on Sunday (27 February). Read more here.

Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively also pledged to match donations for Ukrainian refugees up to $1m and Ashton Kutcher said he “stands with” his wife, the actor Mila Kunis’s native Ukraine.

the bad

Actor AnnaLyne McCord’s two-minute poem addressed to Putin was meanwhile met with bafflement, after the 90210 actor posted it on Twitter on Thursday (24 February).

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“I’m so sorry that I was not your mother,” McCord began her poem, reciting spoken-word style verses that went: “If I was your mother, you would have been so loved, held in the arms of joyous light. Never would this story’s plight. The world unfurled before our eyes. A pure demise.”

The video, which has been viewed over 15 million times since McCord uploaded it, has been largely criticized by Twitter users.

Referencing actor Gal Gadot’s celebrity rendition of “Imagine”, one commented: “SAME tone deaf energy as this bs from the start of the pandemic.” McCord later attempted to explain the video.

Many were also left confused after news emerged that Sean Penn was seen at a press briefing at the Presidential Office in Kyiv amid the Russian invasion.

As photographs of the Oscar winner in Ukraine circulated on social media, fans shared their surprise. “Uhh, Sean Penn is in Ukraine right now,” wrote one person. Another added: “Ukraine needs a lot of things right now. Sean Penn […] is not among them.”

the I Am Sam actor is on the ground in Ukraine filming a documentary about Russia’s invasion.

Penn previously visited the country in November 2021 to begin preparing for his documentary.

Madonna took to social media on Friday (25 February) to voice her support for Ukraine. She condemned Russia’s “pointless and greed driven invasion”, adding that “Putin has violated every human rights accord in existence”.

The star’s caption accompanied a video that featured footage of Ukraine and Putin alongside clips of herself dancing and singing to her 2006 track “Sorry”. Some criticized the Grammy award-winner over her video of her, calling it “narcissistic” and “tone-deaf.”

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the ugly

Professional wrestler and actor John Cena sparked backlash after appearing to use Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to promote his HBO series peacemaker.

In a tweet on Thursday, Cena appeared to react to the escalating crisis, writing: “If I could somehow summon the powers of a real life #peacemakerI think this would be a great time to do so.”

His post included a sponsored hashtag for the HBO Max series, in which he stars as the titular DC Comics superhero.

form Strictly Come Dancing professional Kristina Rihanoff came under fire over for posting “I don’t give as*** about the war” on Twitter.

Kristina Rihanoff and Ben Cohen on ‘Strictly’ in 2014

(Steve Thorn/Getty Images)

The Russian dancer, who competed on the BBC show from 2008 to 2015, shared the since-deleted post while detailing how her business had been impacted by the pandemic.

The tweet said: “I do want to focus on what sort of punishment Boris Johnson will have for destroying my family run business and 1000 of others. Many of my friends LOST businesses because of government lockdowns.

“‘Don’t give as** about the war but I do about the debt because of NO TRADING for 2yrs.”

She also criticized Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, following the news of sanctions against Russia. “Nobody gives a flying monkey about your sanctions. Just like bfr ALL countries will crawl back AGAIN begging to trade & start tourism.

“Stand up first for UK & sort out your own s*** & get geography & history lesson next time you go to Russia to talk politics UR #embarrassing.”

Rihanoff shared an additional post, showing a cartoon of US President Joe Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Boris Johnson standing on a pile of dead bodies and pointing, saying: “Russian man bad”. She called the picture “pure genius.”

She later apologized for the tweets, saying she was “deeply sorry”.

You can follow live updates on the Russia-Ukraine crisis here.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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