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UKRAINE

Denmark to spend additional 600 million kroner on weapons for Ukraine

Denmark is to increase its military equipment and weapons contribution to Ukraine by 600 million kroner, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said at a briefing on Thursday after meeting with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, his Danish counterpart Mette Frederiksen and Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky address a joint press conference in Kyiv
Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, his Danish counterpart Mette Frederiksen and Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky address a joint press conference in Kyiv on April 21st 2022. Photo: Miguel Gutierrez/EPA/Ritzau Scanpix

The additional contribution takes Denmark’s total spending on weapons for Ukraine over a billion kroner (134 million euros).

Frederiksen said earlier on Thursday that Denmark would send more weapons to Ukraine without specifying the type of weapons in question. She did not further elaborate at the briefing, at which Zelensky and Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez were also present.

“Denmark has given a lot of support to Ukraine from the beginning. Politically, financially and via sanctions. (And) with the lack of equipment, especially with what you need the most – weapons,” she said addressing Zelensky.

“And we will do what we can to also support Ukraine in future,” she said.

Denmark will give 600 million kroner to Ukraine to finance weapons and will also assist the country with mine clearance and rebuilding work, Frederiksen said.

“We have seen today how important this is if people are to return to the places they’ve lived all their lives,” she said.

During the briefing, Zelensky said that Ukraine wanted to “build our defences not just on soldiers, but also heavy weapons”.

“The Russian army does not care about the number of dead soldiers. We do, and we want to save more lives, but this needs heavier weapons. We don’t have enough and we want to have more,” he said.

Sanchez condemned the “atrocities” allegedly committed by Russian forces in the town of Borodyanka outside Kyiv during the visit with his Danish counterpart.

“Shocked to witness the horror and atrocities of Putin’s war on the streets of Borodyanka,” Sanchez tweeted along with a video of his visit to the war-ravaged town.

“We will not leave the Ukrainian people alone,” he added.

The bodies of nine civilians, some showing signs of torture, were found Wednesday night in two graves around Borodyanka, a senior police official said.

The pullback of Russian forces from towns and villages around Kyiv left a trail of civilian deaths, beginning with discoveries in Bucha, that have led Ukrainian officials to accuse Russia of genocide.

Authorities in Kyiv say hundreds of bodies of  civilians have been found in areas controlled by Russian forces around the capital in the opening stages of the February 24th invasion.

Sanchez and Frederiksen arrived in Kyiv earlier on Thursday for talks with Zelensky.

Madrid has sent about a dozen planes to Ukraine carrying “hundreds of tonnes” of weapons and humanitarian supplies, Defence Minister Margarita Robles said on Monday.

In another sign of support for Kyiv, Sanchez announced on Monday that Spain would reopen its embassy in the Ukrainian capital “in a few days’ time”.

The embassy suspended activity the day after the Russian invasion on February 24th for security reasons.

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UKRAINE

Rapping, breakdancing Ukrainians win Eurovision in musical morale boost

Ukraine won the Eurovision Song Contest Sunday with an infectious hip-hop folk melody, boosting spirits in the embattled nation fighting off a Russian invasion that has killed thousands and displaced millions of people.

Rapping, breakdancing Ukrainians win Eurovision in musical morale boost

Riding a huge wave of public support, Kalush Orchestra beat 24 competitors in the finale of the world’s biggest live music event with “Stefania”, a rap lullaby combining Ukrainian folk and modern hip-hop rhythms.

“Please help Ukraine and Mariupol! Help Azovstal right now,” implored frontman Oleh Psiuk in English from the stage after their performance was met by a cheering audience.

In the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, the triumph was met with smiles and visible relief.

“It’s a small ray of happiness. It’s very important now for us,” said Iryna Vorobey, a 35-year-old businesswoman, adding that the support from Europe was “incredible”.

Following the win, Psiuk — whose bubblegum-pink bucket hat has made him instantly recognisable — thanked everyone who voted for his country in the contest, which is watched by millions of viewers.

“The victory is very important for Ukraine, especially this year. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Glory to Ukraine,” Psiuk told journalists.

Music conquers Europe

The win provided a much-needed morale boost for the embattled nation in its third month of battling much-larger Russian forces.

Mahmood & BLANCO  performing for Italy at Eurovision 2022

Mahmood & BLANCO perform on behalf of Italy during the final of the Eurovision Song contest 2022 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)

“Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!” he wrote on Facebook.

“This win is so very good for our mood,” Andriy Nemkovych, a 28 year-old project manager, told AFP in Kyiv.

The victory drew praise in unlikely corners, as the deputy chief of the NATO military alliance said it showed just how much public support ex-Soviet Ukraine has in fighting off Moscow.

“I would like to congratulate Ukraine for winning the Eurovision contest,” Mircea Geoana said as he arrived in Berlin for talks that will tackle the alliance’s expansion in the wake of the Kremlin’s war.

“And this is not something I’m making in a light way because we have seen yesterday the immense public support all over Europe and Australia for the bravery of” Ukraine, Geoana said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the win “a clear reflection of not just your talent, but of the unwavering support for your fight for freedom”.

And European Council President Charles Michel said he hoped next year’s contest “can be hosted in Kyiv in a free and united Ukraine”.

‘Ready to fight’
Despite the joyous theatrics that are a hallmark of the song contest, the war in Ukraine hung heavily over the festivities this year.
 
The European Broadcasting Union, which organises the event, banned Russia on February 25, the day after Moscow invaded its neighbour.
 
“Stefania”, written by Psiuk as a tribute to his mother before the war, mixes traditional Ukrainian folk music played on flute-like instruments with an invigorating hip-hop beat. The band donned richly embroidered ethnic garb
to perform their act.
 
 
Nostalgic lyrics such as “I’ll always find my way home even if all the roads are destroyed” resonated all the more as millions of Ukrainians have been displaced by war.

Kalush Orchestra received special authorisation from Ukraine’s government to attend Eurovision, since men of fighting age are prohibited from leaving the country, but that permit expires in two days.

Psiuk said he was not sure what awaited the band as war rages back home.

“Like every Ukrainian, we are ready to fight as much as we can and go until the end.

Britain’s ‘Space Man’

Ukraine beat a host of over-the-top acts at the kitschy, quirky annual musical event, including Norway’s Subwoolfer, who sang about bananas while dressed in yellow wolf masks, and Serbia’s Konstrakta, who questioned national healthcare while meticulously scrubbing her hands onstage.

Coming in second place was Britain with Sam Ryder’s “Space Man” and its stratospheric notes, followed by Spain with the reggaeton “SloMo” from Chanel.

After a quarter-century of being shut out from the top spot, Britain had hoped to have a winner in “Space Man” and its high notes belted by the affable, long-haired Ryder.

Britain had been ahead after votes were counted from the national juries, but a jaw-dropping 439 points awarded to Ukraine from the public pushed it to the top spot.

Eurovision’s winner is chosen by a cast of music industry professionals — and members of the public — from each country, with votes for one’s home nation not allowed.

Eurovision is a hit among fans not only for the music, but for the looks on display and this year was no exception. Lithuania’s Monika Liu generated as much social media buzz for her bowl cut hairdo as her sensual and elegant
“Sentimentai”.

Other offerings included Greece’s “Die Together” by Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjord and “Brividi” (Shivers), a duet from Italy’s Mahmood and Blanco.

Italy had hoped the gay-themed love song would bring it a second consecutive Eurovision win after last year’s “Zitti e Buoni” (Shut up and Behave) from high-octane glam rockers Maneskin.

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