Ukraine just performed at the Eurovision Song Contest as Kalush Orchestra performed Stefania, which is favourite to take away the title. But as their vibrant performance ended, the band made a heartbreaking plea for help, saying they’ll be going back to the frontline to defend their country in the war against Russia.

“Please help Ukraine, Mariupol, Azovstal [steel works], right now,” said the band member in the now recognisable bright pink hat. Russia, who is banned from the contest, invaded Ukraine back in February and since then Ukrainian forces have been defending the eastern part of the country, with the port city of Mariupol coming under particular heavy attack.

Many of the country’s adults have stayed behind to fight, including pop stars and sportsmen. The Kalush Orchestra appeared to indicate they would be back on the front line.

Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine at the final dress rehearsal at the Eurovision Song Contest

The orchestra is a Ukrainian hip-hop band that combines ethnic motifs with modern sounds using different folk instruments and was named after the Ukrainian city of Kalush. Set in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, it serves as a mascot that inspires the band to involve different folk elements and authentic Ukrainian music within their songs.

Twitter commended and supported the shout out from Kalush Orchestra. Dr. Ian Garner tweeted: “Massive moment watching Ukraine shout out to Azovstal at the end of their #Eurovision performance. Expect Russian social to be apoplectic.”

LuxintN7 said: ” Ukraine doesn’t care about winning or losing #Eurovision this year. It is home to many talented people, many singers and musicians. But some of them are now defending Ukraine from Russian invaders. And some have already given their lives protecting their loved ones.”

Aussievision added on Twitter: “”Please help Ukraine… please help Mariupol… right now – Europe is partying tonight but Kalush Orchestra remind us that war is happening on the continent.” Anna Kurylo added: “Grateful and proud of Ukraine at #Eurovision tonight. As much as we would like to just enjoy the show, the war goes on and I think it was a good reminder. Thank you #KalushOrchestra!”

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