Actor and director Sean Penn is in Ukraine filming a documentary amid the invasion by the Russian military, the Ukrainian government said.
“The director specially came to Kyiv to record all the events that are currently happening in Ukraine and to tell the world the truth about Russia’s invasion of our country,” the Ukrainian government said in a statement on Thursday. “Sean Penn is among those who support Ukraine in Ukraine today. Our country is grateful to him for such a show of courage and honesty.”
The statement continued: “Sean Penn is demonstrating bravery that many others have been lacking, in particular some Western politicians. The more people like that—true friends of Ukraine, who support the fight for freedom—the quicker we can stop this heinous invasion by Russia.”
Photos uploaded online showed Penn speaking with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and appearing at a news conference in Kyiv. It’s not clear when the photos were taken. Zelensky posted a video of him meeting the actor on Instagram.
“The more people know about the war in Ukraine, the higher the likelihood of stopping Russia,” said Zelensky.
The documentary is a Vice Studios production, reported Variety, which provided no other details. A Vice spokesperson confirmed the details to UK news outlet ITK.
Last November, Penn was seen photographed wearing a helmet and protective equipment while meeting with Ukrainian soldiers.
It comes as Ukrainian forces battled Russian military forces on three sides on Thursday after Moscow mounted an assault by land, sea, and air in the biggest attack on a European state since World War II, prompting tens of thousands of people to flee their homes.
An adviser to the Ukrainian presidential office said Russian forces had captured the Chernobyl former nuclear power plant, just 60 miles north of the capital, and Hostomel airport in the Kyiv region, where paratroopers had earlier been landed.
Heavy exchanges of fire were also taking place in the regions of Sumy and Kharkiv in the northeast and Kherson and Odessa, home to a populous city and Ukraine’s most important seaport, in the south. The highway heading west out of Kyiv was choked with traffic across five lanes as residents fled, fearful of bombardments while stuck in their cars.
“This is a premeditated attack,” President Joe Biden told reporters at the White House as he unveiled harsh new sanctions coordinated with allies. “Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war. And now he and his country will bear the consequences.”
Reuters contributed to this report.