David Neres, a Brazilian soccer player who plays for a club in Ukraine, joined his teammates and rivals Thursday to call for help escaping the country as Russian forces invade.
At least nine Brazilian soccer stars, accompanied by their families, joined Neres to call for their evacuation from Kyiv.
Meanwhile, the Russian military continues its push into Ukraine. Since Thursday morning local time, Russian forces launched more than 200 attacks across the border with its western neighbor, reportedly killing or wounding hundreds.
In Washington, U.S. President Joe Biden inked an executive order Thursday calling for harsh economic sanctions against Moscow in retaliation for the invasion. NATO allies including the United Kingdom, France and Germany are said to be mulling punitive sanctions of their own.
David Neres, Others Stranded in Ukraine
“We’re all here gathered,” said Marlon Santos, who plays for the FC Shakhtar Donetsk in Kyiv, in the video message posted to his Instagram account early Thursday morning. “We’re all waiting here in a hotel, checking on the situation.”
Santos continued: “We’re here asking you to share this video. There’s no fuel, the border is closed, the airspace is closed. There’s no way for us to get out.”
“We’re asking the Brazilian government for support,” the center-back explained. “We’re hoping they could share this video to reach the most amount [sic] of people possible.”
“The desperation is agonizing. We wait for the support from our country. We speak in the name of all the Brazilians in Ukraine,” he added.
A woman in the group who has not been positively identified said she and the other Brazilian soccer wives feel “a bit left to the side” in the chaos of the invasion.
“The women are with our kids, our babies,” she said, “and we don’t know what to do. We are unaware of the local news, we only get the news from Brazil.”
When the invasion launched, she continued, “we all went running from our houses to this hotel, along with one change of clothes. We don’t even know if we’ll have food, so we would like to ask for help and put an end to our situation.”
The Brazilian embassy in Kviv offered an official response within a few hours.
“The Embassy of Brazil in Kiev remains open and dedicated, with priority, since the escalation of tensions, to the protection of the approximately 500 Brazilian citizens in Ukraine,” authorities wrote.
“Brazilian citizens in Ukrainian territory, in particular those in the east of the country and other regions in conflict conditions, are requested to maintain daily contact with the Embassy,” the statement continued.
“If they need assistance to leave Ukraine, they must follow the guidelines of the Embassy and, in the case of residents in the east, move to Kyiv as soon as security conditions allow.”
As of Thursday afternoon, David Neres, Marlon Santos, and the other Brazilian soccer players have still not said that they’ve been evacuated from Ukraine, and are presumably still in-country.
Ukraine Crisis Continues
Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials in Kyiv issued a curfew and a city-wide blackout as night fell on Thursday. Public transportation has ceased as well, reports added.
U.S. diplomats said they believe a Russian siege of the city is all but inevitable.
“All evidence suggests that Russia intends to encircle and threaten Kiev, and we believe Moscow has developed plans to inflict widespread human rights abuses — and potentially worse — on the Ukrainian people,” claimed Secretary of State Tony Blinken on Thursday.