Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York has opened last night’s (February 26) Saturday Night Live in a move away from the show’s traditional opening sketch.
The Chorus, who were founded in 1949 as a way for Ukrainian immigrants to “preserve and cultivate the rich musical heritage of Ukraine”, were introduced by SNL regulars Cecily Strong and Kate McKinnon at the show’s opening.
Ukraine has officially severed diplomatic ties with Russia and declared martial law after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an attack on the neighbouring nation on February 24.
The Chorus went on to perform an emotive rendition of ‘Prayer For Ukraine’, which you can watch below.
After that, the show went on to reveal a set of candles in the shape of the word ‘Kiev’, Ukraine’s capital, which is still currently under siege.
“Prayer for Ukraine” performed by Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York pic.twitter.com/5pi2l1Olpx
— Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) February 27, 2022
198 Ukrainians – including three children – have been killed at the time of writing, according to Health Minister Viktor Liashko. A further 1,115 people have reportedly been wounded, including 33 children (via Al Jazeera). Russian authorities have not released casualty figures for their forces.
The actions of Putin, who has claimed that Russia does not intend to occupy Ukraine and that his country’s actions amount to a “special military operation”, have drawn widespread condemnation from across the globe.
US President Joe Biden has pledged “severe” sanctions on Russia, saying in a statement that Ukraine is “suffering an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces” and that “Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering”.
Johnson said that the outbreak of conflict in the country was a “catastrophe for our continent”.
Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks spoke out to say that her “heart was broken” over the situation and compared Putin to Hitler, Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos paid tribute to the “open and welcoming” people of Kyiv, and Foals honoured the Ukrainian crew of their recent ‘2am video‘, while both Miley Cyrus and Yunblud were among the artists to issue statements of solidarity with the Ukrainian people.
Russian rapper Oxxxymiron has cancelled a series of shows in Moscow and St. Petersburg in protest of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Russia has now also been removed from the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest.
Ukraine, which has a population of 44million people, borders both Russia and the European Union. As the BBC reports, Russia has long resisted Ukraine’s move towards embracing European institutions like NATO and the EU.
Putin is now demanding guarantees from the West and Ukraine that it will not join NATO, a defensive alliance of 30 countries, and that Ukraine demilitarise and become a neutral state.