Vladimir Putin’s rumoured goddaughter and several leading Russian celebs have led a public outcry against their nation’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Ukrainian army was this afternoon fighting in almost every region of the country, battling the Russians for control of military bases, airports, cities and ports after an early-hours barrage of cruise missiles and guided bombs targeting ammo dumps and radar arrays.
By Thursday afternoon, battles were ongoing in Kiev, along the northern border with Belarus, in Luhansk and Donetsk in the east and around Kherson, the Dneiper River, and the port cities of Odessa and Mariupol in the south.
International condemnation for the Kremlin’s actions have been widespread – and some of Russia’s biggest celebrities have now joined in.
Many have shared black squares on their social media profiles, along with the hashtag no war.
Among those posting the black square was Ksenia Sobchak, a socialite and former Russian presidential candidate who is rumoured to be the goddaughter of Vladimir Putin. She has denied the rumours but previously admitted that he attended her baptism.
Posting today, she said: ‘Today they woke me up at six in the morning with the words ‘Ksyusha, the war has begun.’
‘Not on our land, [but] with our people, yes.
‘We, the Russians, will be dealing with the consequences of today for many years to come.’
TV presenter and actress Anastasia Ivleeva, who has nearly 20 million Instagram followers, also posted a black square, commenting: ‘No war.’
Leading TV host Ivan Urgant also hit out at the situation, commenting: ‘Fear and pain. NO to war.’
Former World Champion figure skater Evgenia Medvedevа wrote: ‘I hope this all ends as soon as possible, like a bad dream.’
Maxim Galkin, a popular comedian who is also married to Russian’s biggest celeb, added: ‘From early morning in touch with relatives and friends from Ukraine. Can’t put into words how I feel! How is this possible? There can be no justification for war. No war.’
Actress Irina Starshenbaum wrote: ‘How did we get to this point? Nothing justifies war and I have no words to express the pain and horror of this morning. Ukrainians, please forgive me for being helpless. We want an immediate end to these heinous acts.’
It was a surprising step for Russian officials to speak out against Putin, who usually holds an iron grip on dissent and last week televised a meeting with Moscow’s top security chiefs in which they appeared to be railroaded into backing his plans to invade Ukraine.
The letter, which described the signatories as those ‘elected by the people’, said they ‘unreservedly condemn the attack of the Russian army on Ukraine’.
‘This is an unprecedented atrocity for which there is no and cannot be justification. The decision to attack was made personally by Russian President Vladimir Putin. We are convinced that the citizens of Russia did not give him such a mandate.’
The letter warned of ‘catastrophic consequences’ – ‘Thousands of people will die, be injured and maimed, cities dear to many Russians will be destroyed.’
It said Russia would face ‘the condemnation of the world community’ resulting in ‘isolation, rising prices and poverty’.
‘Hopes for a good life in Russia are crumbling before our eyes,’ the letter added.
‘We urge you not to participate in the aggression and not to approve of it. Please don’t be silent: only massive popular condemnation can stop the war.’
It comes after heartbreaking images emerged from Ukraine showing bloodied civilians staggering through the streets of towns in the east of the country following Russian shelling in the early hours of today.
Other civilians were also injured and some others are believed to have died, though numbers of those hurt were not yet confirmed.
The Russian Defense Ministry said it was not targeting cities, but using precision weapons and claimed that ‘there is no threat to civilian population.’
Yet Luhansk, Sumy, Kharkiv and Chernihiv in the east of Ukraine all reported coming under attack, with blasts also reported in the west – in Zhytomyr and Lviv, close to the border with Poland.