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Amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, many of the country’s citizens are faced with potentially serious decisions.
While some took refuge in Ukraine, others fled. Others, including a number of celebrities and lawmakers, have chosen to stay put and fight to thwart Russia after the Ukrainian government distributed tens of thousands of automatic rifles to civilians last week.
Apart from volunteers, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has banned men of military age between 18 and 60 from leaving the country.
Here’s a look at some public figures who have said they’ll join the fight against Vladimir Putin’s army.
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Wladimir Klitschko and Vitali Klitschko
Wladimir Klitschko, a former Ukrainian boxer and WBO and WBA champion who dominated the sport’s heavyweight division alongside his brother and current Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko in the 2000s, has vowed to defend his home country against Putin.
Wladimir recently accused the Russian president of trying to restore Russia’s dominance over vulnerable parts of the world and argued that the attacks on the Eastern European nation are the result of years of “weakness of democracies western”.
“Putin wants to challenge the geopolitical balance across Europe, he dreams of being the defender of Slavic peoples wherever they live, and he wants to restore a fallen empire whose disappearance he never accepted” , he wrote in a LinkedIn blog post on February 24.
United with his brother Vitali, the two men fought hard for their lives and those of their compatriots.
Wladimir, 45, has 7-year-old daughter Kaya with ex-fiancée and actress Hayden Panettiere, who has since confirmed their daughter is ‘safe’ and ‘not in Ukraine’ amid the crisis .
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A champion in three separate weight classes and arguably one of boxing’s best pound-for-pound punchers, Vasiliy Lomachenko, 34, is known in the sport simply as ‘LOMA’ and he also joined the reserve forces Ukrainians. He appeared in a February 27 Instagram post in full military gear with a rifle slung over his shoulder.
“The Belgorod-Dnestrovsky Territorial Defense Battalion has been trained and armed,” the post’s caption read. “In territorial defense, boxer Vasily Lomachenko.”
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The frontman of local hip-hop and rock group BoomBox appeared in images and videos on social media on February 28 in full military gear holding a rifle amid the deadly Russian invasion.
“Musicians are peacemakers,” Khlyvnyuk recently told Euronews. “Now is not the time to play the guitar. It is time to take up the guns.”
“They bombed us,” added the 42-year-old musician who left his children in the care of his grandmother. At the time, he said his plan was to “take [his] the children in a safe house – at grandma’s. And then I will come back to follow the instructions of the government. And if necessary, I will take my gun and I will fight for my country.”
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The 36-year-old four-time ATP Tour title winner has enlisted in his country’s military reserves and said he is more than willing to fight back in case he faces possible death .
“Of course I would fight. That’s the only reason I’m trying to come back,” Stakhovsky told Sky News, noting that he has no military experience but has “experience with a gun in private”.
“My father and my brother are surgeons, they are stressed, but I talk to them often – they sleep in the basement,” he added, according to Reuters.
On Wednesday, Stakhovsky took to Instagram to share a photo of himself in full military uniform, packing a rifle and handgun as he patrolled the streets of Kyiv.
“Never in my life would I expect to have to wear a bulletproof vest in #Kyiv,” he lamented. “It’s a disaster the way RUSSIA invaded Ukraine.”
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His post on Tuesday showed him sitting in a stairwell with his head bowed and his hands on his head.
“Experiencing all this violence imposed on us by Russian troops and the Putin regime…seeing tears in the eyes of people who don’t know their future…only leads me to one conclusion…we have to win…” he wrote, adding, “WE MUST NOT SURRENDER.”
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In a previous social media post on February 24, Stakhovsky said he was proud of his country and its armed forces.
“I’m proud of @ukraine_defence I’m proud of @national_guard_of_ukraine I’m proud of my president @zelenskiy_official I’m proud of every Ukrainian. I’m proud to be Ukrainian. Believe in our army…believe in our invincibility. Glory to Ukraine,” he wrote in the post, according to an English translation.
Fox News’ Mike Ruiz and The Associated Press contributed to this report