Orlando Bloom makes surprise visit to Zelenskyy in Ukraine

British actor calls the Ukrainian people 'awe-inspiring' as war continues to devastate the lives of children

Actor and Unicef Goodwill Ambassador Orlando Bloom plays with children in the Spilno Child Centre in Kyiv on March 25. Unicef / Reuters
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Actor and Unicef Goodwill Ambassador Orlando Bloom has praised the courage and resilience of the Ukrainian people after meeting President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.

The Pirates of the Caribbean star travelled over the weekend to the Ukrainian capital to experience first-hand how children are being affected by the war with Russia, now in its second year.

“To see the children, to see in their eyes, it’s palpable the anxiety and yet, the strength of the Ukrainian people is something that is really awe-inspiring in truth and, of course, your messaging is the reason for that,” Bloom told Mr Zelenskyy.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy meets Orlando Bloom in Kyiv

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, poses for photo with British actor and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Orlando Bloom during their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, March 26, 2023.  (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

"So encouraging in so many ways to see just the remarkably stoic nature of the people of Ukraine.

"And of course, your messaging that I think is reflected in their courage, and in their determination and in their perseverance and resilience.”

Mr Zelenskyy in response said: "We have a good country, we hold each other.

“Your coming sends a big message."

This month, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian official Maria Lvova-Belova for an alleged scheme to deport Ukrainian children to Russia.

Bloom, who played the elf Legolas in Lord of the Rings, told Mr Zelenskyy that the missing Ukrainian children are a priority for Unicef and that he thinks they are taking it “incredibly seriously”.

Mr Zelenskyy said his priority was to first ensure there is an "infrastructure" for the children when they return, which includes an "educational network”.

He thanked the ICC for their actions in his weekly address to the Ukrainian people.

“In the criminal proceedings being investigated by our law enforcement officers, more than 16,000 forced deportations of Ukrainian children by the occupier have already been recorded,” Mr Zelenskyy said.

"But the real, full number of deportees may be much higher."

Russia described the ICC’s actions as “outrageous and unacceptable”.

Bloom also visited two bomb shelters and shared photos from his visit to a family home, as well as of a visit to a Unicef-supported Spilno centre for children.

"Children in Ukraine need their childhoods back," Bloom wrote on Instagram.

At the end of the meeting, Bloom described a video of his mother singing the Ukrainian national anthem and she said if he met Mr Zelenskyy to tell him to win. “Go win” he said, “Slava Ukraine”.

Last year, Bloom wrote an essay for People magazine describing a trip he took to Moldova where he described at least 1,000 refugees a day crossing over from Ukraine’s southern border.

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: March 27, 2023, 9:25 PM