Hayden Panettiere Says 'Friends and Family Are Desperately Trying to Defend Their Way of Life' in Ukraine

"I can't continue to sit on the sidelines just watching as this disaster rages on," Hayden Panettiere said

Hayden Panettiere is using her voice to speak out in support of those very dear to her.

Sharing a video to her organization Hoplon International's YouTube page, the 32-year-old Nashville alum addressed the ongoing war on Ukraine sparked by Russia's invasion last month. Panettiere pleaded for all to lend their support during this dire time and spoke about her efforts to raise critical funding for medical supplies and protective gear for those fighting for their lives on the frontlines in Ukraine.

"There are no words to describe what it's been like to watch the war on Ukraine unfold," she began. "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."

Panettiere continued, "I created Hoplon International to bring relief and aid directly to Ukrainians on the front lines. I can't continue to sit on the sidelines just watching as this disaster rages on."

Before concluding her message, Panettiere advised everyone to not "sit by idly" as the invasion continues. "Help me by donating any amount that you can," she added. "Together, we can make a difference in their fight."

Hayden Panettiere
Hoplon International/YouTube

Panettiere shares her 7-year-old daughter, Kaya, with her ex, former professional boxer Wladimir Klitschko. Not only does her ex hail from Ukraine but the retired athlete's brother, Vitali Klitschko, is the mayor of the country's capital, Kyiv.

In a video message of his own, which was also shared on the organization's YouTube page, Wladimir said, "Hi, I'm Wladimir Klitschko from Kyiv, Ukraine. Please support Hoplon International Foundation to stop Russian aggression and end war in Ukraine. Thank you."

Recently, Panettiere confirmed that daughter Kaya was "safe and not in Ukraine" amid the ongoing war. The mother of one's statement was made in response to a fan expressing their concern on an Instagram post, in which the actress showed her support to Ukrainian people.

"I have personally witnessed the strength of the Ukrainian people who fought so hard for their independence and have continued to passionately defend their country over the years. What [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is doing is an absolute disgrace," Panettiere wrote at the time.

"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," she continued. "I'm praying for my family and friends there and everyone who's fighting. I wish you had more support and I wish I was there fighting with you! For now, I ask for those of us who can't be there to stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and show your support for #democracy."

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Panettiere urged her fans to follow her ex, Wladimir, and his brother, Vitali, on Instagram for relevant updates.

Days later, the Heroes alum tweeted in support of the Klitschko brothers' charity, The Klitschko Foundation. "Please help #Ukraine by donating what you can," she wrote, adding that the foundation's website "has a list of organizations that are well targeted to the most urgent needs of the Ukrainian people."

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 said.

The invasion, ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, has drawn condemnation around the world and increasingly severe economic sanctions against Russia. With NATO forces massing in the region around Ukraine, various countries have also pledged aid or military support to the resistance. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for peace talks — so far unsuccessful — while urging his country to fight back.

Putin has insisted that Ukraine has historic ties to Russia and he is acting in the best security interests of his country. Meanwhile, Zelenskyy vowed not to bend. "Nobody is going to break us, we're strong, we're Ukrainians," he 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."

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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