The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has found time during the war with Russia to make a guest appearance at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards via video. Introduced by host Trevor Noah and dressed in his familiar army issue green, Zelenksyy’s speech in the pre-recorded footage discussed the importance of peace, the toll the Russian invasion being waged against them was having on his people and the silence that has come in the aftermath of battle. He then encouraged people to “fill your silence with music”.

“The war. What is more opposite to music? The silence of ruined cities and killed people. Our children draw swooping rockets, not shooting stars. Over 400 children have been injured and 153 children died. And we’ll never seem them drawing. Our parents are happy to wake up in the morning. In bomb shelters, but alive. Our loved ones don’t know if we will be together again. The war doesn’t let us choose who survives and who stays in eternal silence. Our musicians wear body armour instead of tuxedos. They sing to the wounded in hospitals, even to those who can’t hear them. But the music will break through anyway.”

The segment also introduced a new song by John Legend, who was joined on stage by Ukrainian singers and musicians. Called Free, it was dedicated to those who in Ukraine who were fighting for their homeland.

The moment highlighted how the war with Russia has, and always was, going to be waged far beyond the actual cities and towns where soldiers encounter each other. Since the invasion began, Zelenskyy has been waging a secondary battle on social media against Putin and his people. Before his time in parliament, Zelenskyy was himself an entertainer – a comedian – and it’s clear that all that media nuance and knowledge of how to reach an audience for maximum effect is still there.

 

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