The Grammy Awards paused a celebration of spectacular work in the music industry to highlight the realities of war plaguing Ukraine with President Volodymyr Zelensky — who worked as an actor before going into politics — sharing a moving message to audiences during the Grammys telecast.

"The war. What is more opposite to music?" said Zelensky at the start of the pre-recorded video. "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 see 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 armor 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. We defend our freedom to live, to love, to sound," he continued. "On our land, we are fighting Russia, which brings horrible silence with its bombs. The dead silence. Fill the silence with your music! Fill it today, to tell our story. Tell the truth about this war on your social networks, on TV. Support us in any way you can. Any — but not silence. And then peace will come. To all our cities the war is destroying, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Volnovakha, Mariupol, and others. They are legends already, but I have a dream of them living. And free. Free like you on the Grammys stage."

The video introduced John Legend's performance of "Free" as part of a special tribute to Ukraine, which has faced an ongoing humanitarian crisis since Russia's invasion in early March. Zelensky's appearance comes amid ongoing attacks from Russia's armed forces under the direction of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin's war on the country, which has now entered its second month, has drawn worldwide condemnation for its baseless foundation and high casualty rate among civilian Ukrainians. Celebrities of Russian and/or Ukrainian descent like Regina Spektor, Vera Farmiga, and Maksim Chmerkovskiy have spoken out against Putin's tactics, with Spektor comparing them to those of the Nazis in World War II.

"We are heartbroken by the situation in Ukraine, yet still moved by the resilient spirit on display there every day," Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. said in a statement posted on the Grammys website. "We hope the segment inspires our worldwide audience to get involved to support these critical humanitarian efforts." 

Amid the crisis, more than 10 million Ukrainians have been displaced since Russian shelling began on the country in late February, with roughly 3 million leaving Ukraine and 7 million estimated to have relocated to far reaches of the war-torn country.

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