Sean Penn lends Oscar to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

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Nov. 8 (UPI) — Actor and director Sean Penn loaned his Oscar statue to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday, in a gesture of support amid the ongoing war with Russia.

Penn was in Ukraine and handed over the trophy in person, telling Zelenksy to return it when his country wins the war. Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

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“When you win, bring it back to Malibu. I’ll feel much better knowing a piece of me is here,” Penn told the Ukrainian leader.

Penn has visited Ukraine three times since the conflict began, voicing his support for Ukraine and Zelensky. He filmed a documentary in the country in March.

Penn, 62, has won two Academy Awards for best actor — for Mystic River in 2003 and 2008’s Milk.

“This is for you. It’s just a symbolic, silly thing, but if I know this is here with you then I’ll feel better and stronger for the fight,” Penn told Zelensky on Tuesday, referring to him as his “great friend.”

In September, Penn’s ties to Ukraine landed him on Russia’s stop list, banning him from entering the country.

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Russia imposed retaliatory sanctions against 25 Americans, including Penn and fellow actor Ben Stiller, in response to those the Biden administration has slapped against Russian officials and oligarchs over the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine.

Stiller has also visited Ukraine.

Zelensky, 44, is a former comedian and actor better known for his satire before getting into politics. He presented Penn with a Ukrainian Order of Merit to thank him “for his sincere support and significant contribution to the popularization of Ukraine in the world.”