Mila Kunis on Her Ukrainian Roots and Russian Invasion: I Feel Like 'My Heart Just Got Ripped Out'

Mila Kunis and husband Ashton Kutcher have so far raised more than $20 million to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine

Mila Kunis
Photo: Eric Charbonneau/Invision for STX Entertainment/AP

Mila Kunis is opening up about her Ukrainian roots and witnessing the heartbreaking invasion led by Russia into her home country.

The Bad Moms actress, 38, and husband Ashton Kutcher launched a campaign to fundraise and support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, where Kunis was born, surpassing $20 million of their $30 million goal in under a week.

Speaking with Maria Shriver for the journalist's "Conversations Above the Noise" digital series, Kunis shared her emotional response to watching the war unfold in the news, explaining that while she identifies as a proud American, having moved to the U.S. from Ukraine as a child in 1991, she can't help but feel impacted by the events.

"I very much have always felt like an American. People were like, 'Oh, you're so Eastern European.' I was like, 'I'm so L.A. What do you mean?' " she joked. "My whole life I was like L.A. through and through. Then this happens — and mind you, we have friends in Ukraine, Ash and I went and met with [President Volodymyr] Zelenskyy right before COVID. I've been there, but have always considered myself very much an American."

"This happens," she continued, "and I can't express or explain what came over me, but all of a sudden I genuinely was, I was like, oh my God, I feel like a part of my heart just got ripped out. It was the weirdest feeling."

Russia's attack on Ukraine continues after their forces launched a large-scale invasion on Feb. 24 — the first major land conflict in Europe in decades. Details of the fighting change by the day, but hundreds of civilians have already been reported dead or wounded, including children. More than a million Ukrainians have also fled, the United Nations says.

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The invasion, ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, has drawn condemnation around the world and increasingly severe economic sanctions against Russia.

"Nobody is going to break us, we're strong, we're Ukrainians," Zelenskyy told the European Union in a speech in the early days of the fighting, adding, "Life will win over death. And light will win over darkness."

Kunis told Shriver, "I don't think that we need to consider the people of Russia an enemy. I do really want to emphasize that. I don't think that that's being said enough in the press. I think that there's now, 'If you're not with us, you're against us' mentality. I don't want people to conflate the two problems that are happening. I don't think it's the people of Russia. I don't want there to be a thing of 'all Russians are horrible human beings.' I don't want that to be the rhetoric. I do encourage people to look at it from the perspective of, 'It's the people in power, not the people themselves.' "

The full interview with Kunis will be released this Sunday via Shriver's Sunday Paper newsletter.

The Russian attack on Ukraine is an evolving story, with information changing quickly. Follow PEOPLE's complete coverage of the war here, including stories from citizens on the ground and ways to help.

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