Ukraine stormed the global stage, claiming Eurovision victory, but its triumph has been soured with a deadly warning from Russia.
Kalush Orchestra took out the competition on the weekend after being given special permission to leave the country to represent Ukraine at the world’s biggest live music event.
Its song, Stefania, beat 24 other performances in the grand final, with the public vote securing the band’s top spot. It was the country’s third Eurovision win since its debut in 2003.
On stage to accept the landslide win, Kalush Orchestra used its world-wide platform to call for more aid in Ukraine’s fight against Russia.
“I ask all of you, please help Ukraine, Mariupol,” frontman Oleg Psiuk begged the audience.
“Help Azovstal, right now.”
In retaliation, Russian forces sent disturbing new taunts to the country by reportedly scrawling direct messages to the band across bombs.
Haunting photos published on Pro-Kremlin Telegram channels show the words ‘Kalush, as you asked’ and ‘help Mariupol, help Azovstal, right now’ written across the metal.
Other images read, ‘#Eurovision2022’ and ‘I heard the call to f*** up Azov. Help Mariupol, help Mariupol right now.’
It is believed these bombs were dropped on the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol that night.
Russian calls for Eurovision to be nuked
In the wake of Ukraine’s historic win, one Russian journalist has called for the song contest to be blown up.
“Bomb it with a Satan missile,” Yuliya Vityazeva, wrote on Twitter, referring to one of Russia’s newest nuclear weapons.
While in an opinion piece published on Moscow’s AiF newspaper website, columnist Vladimir Polupanov slammed the show as “boring politicised television” and “fake”.
He said “the competition smells badly of a rotting swamp” and that “almost none of the winners, with the exception of ABBA, become big stars”.
Russian media accused of acting like children
Dr Ian Garner, a historian, author and ‘Russian propaganda watcher’, has slammed the comments as child-like behaviour.
He said “Russian media is having an absolute A+ toddler meltdown over Eurovision.”
Referring to Polupanov’s remarks that Russia never sends its big stars and that the competition doesn’t matter, Dr Garner said “they always send their biggest star and they’re always Kremlin approved.”
“From the way they’re carrying on, you’d think Russia never cared about Eurovision and you’d never know that,” he said, “until February 24, they were — as every year — desperate to participate and win.”
“In reality, placing well is a big deal for the regime to “prove” it's popular abroad.”
Horror in Mariupol as 1000 people trapped underground
As witness to some of the worst destruction of the war, Mariupol continues to be under siege from Russian forces.
An estimated 1000 people remain trapped underneath the Azovstal steel plant in bunkers with very little food or water.
Evacuations are continuing at the site, with Ukrainian fighters pulling out civilians with ropes.
A group of about 20 women and children have so far been rescued.
Putin’s latest threat as Finland seeks NATO membership
Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent a stern warning to Finland after it declared its intention to join NATO.
He has told his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto ditching neutrality and signing up to the Western alliance would be a mistake that could damage relations between their two countries.
President Niinesto’s office said that Russian demands aimed at preventing countries from joining NATO, and its invasion of the Ukraine, have altered its security environment.
Sweden is expected to follow Finland’s lead and put in a bid to become a NATO member, something Putin was determined to avoid when launching his invasion of Ukraine.
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