Hayden Panettiere Shares Heartbreaking Update About Her Family In Ukraine

As the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine continues to worsen, friends and family of loved ones attempting to flee the country become more desperate by the day. The Guardian reports that Vladimir Putin's promise to provide safe passage for civilians to escape the constant bombardment by Russian forces is not being met as the supposed humanitarian corridors remain under fire. According to the outlet, eight Ukrainians, including women and children, were gunned down and killed while attempting to leave the country's capital Kyiv. "The route is not safe," deputy mayor Sergei Orlov warned. "We do not have confirmation at the moment that a ceasefire started."

The U.N. refugee agency estimates that the Russian attacks on Ukraine could lead to over 7 million civilians being displaced, per The Council on Foreign Relations. They believe it could be the largest refugee crisis to hit Europe since the bloody breakup of the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. 

Yahoo! News/YouGov poll found that 74% of U.S. citizens are against the incursion, believing it to be "unjustified." But, displaying how polarized the United States remains, the poll reports that 47% of Donald Trump supporters claim that Putin is still a better president than Joe Biden. Not surprisingly, those with close ties to the war-torn country beg to differ. One such person is actor Hayden Panettiere, who just shared a heartbreaking update about her family in Ukraine.

Hayden Panettiere's Ukrainian roots run deep

People reports that actor Hayden Panettiere's ex-boyfriend, the retired heavyweight boxer Wladimir Klitschko, was born in Ukraine. The couple has a 7-year-old daughter together, Kaya, and their girl's uncle, Vitali Klitschko, is the mayor of Kyiv and remains in the country.

Panettiere shared the heartbreaking update in a video she posted on the YouTube channel of her newly launched foundation, Hoplon International. "It's gut-wrenching knowing that the people of Ukraine and people I call my friends and family are desperately trying to defend their way of life and the country that they love," she said in the video, begging people to help the besieged country. Panettiere launched Hoplon specifically to raise funds to aid Ukrainian forces and civilians by sending essential supplies and equipment. She told CNN she felt forced to take action as she couldn't "continue to sit on the sidelines" and do nothing while her loved ones' lives are in danger.

Panettiere also took to Instagram to plead for U.S. citizens "to stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity" with Ukrainians and not allow the overthrow of democracy. "What Putin is doing is an absolute disgrace!" Panettiere wrote. "This horrific moment in history sends a terrifying message: the message that in this day and age, in year 2022, it's okay to violate the rights of free people and allow autocrats like Putin to take whatever they please."