The President of Ukraine has announced that he wants to host the next Eurovision Song Contest in Ukraine following the country’s win. Last night (May 15) Ukraine won the hearts of viewers around the world after the band Kalush Orchestra performed their song Stefania, which has become a popular anthem among Ukrainians during the war.
Ukraine won a huge 439 points in the public vote and 631 points overall to claim the title, having been frontrunners and the favorites to win since Russia’s invasion. Followed closely behind was the UK after Sam Ryder’s performance which earned us 446 points and second place in the singing contest.
Following the country’s success Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has now vowed to host the next Eurovision Song Contest in the besieged city of Mariupol, which is almost entirely in Russian hands during the war. This is aside from a stalwart group of a few hundred Ukrainian fighters who continue to hold out in a steel factory.
READMORE: Eurovision 2022 results in full and how many points UK won
Ukraine’s victory was a morale booster for the country, with President Zelensky later revealing on Facebook, “Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe. Next year, Ukraine will host Eurovision.”
The band Kalush Orchestra made an impassioned plea during the show to help the fighters still in the Azovstal steel plant in the port city, and Mr Zelensky said “one day” the contest will be held “in a Ukrainian Mariupol”.
The president’s optimistic words come as Russian troops are retreating from Kharkiv, the country’s second largest city, after bombarding it for weeks, and Moscow’s forces continue to engage in a grinding battle for the country’s eastern industrial heartland.
Ukraine’s military said the Russian forces are now pulling back from the north-eastern city to focus on guarding supply routes, while launching mortar, artillery and air strikes in the eastern region of Donetsk in an attempt to “deplete Ukrainian forces and destroy fortifications”.
Defense minister Oleksii Reznikov said Ukraine is “entering a new – long-term – phase of the war”.
Russian forces control a horseshoe-shaped swath of territory in the Ukrainian areas of Donetsk and Luhansk, which make up the eastern Donbas region, along the border of the industrial region where Ukraine has battled Moscow-backed separatists since 2014.
In the southern Donbas, the Azov Sea port of Mariupol is now largely under Russian control, except for the few hundred troops left in the factory.
A convoy of between 500 and 1,000 cars carrying civilians out of the city was reportedly able to reach the Ukrainian-held city of Zaporizhzhia on Saturday, while Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said authorities are negotiating the evacuation of 60 severely wounded troops at the steelworks .
After failing to capture Kyiv following the February 24 invasion, Russian President Vladimir Putin has shifted his focus eastward to the Donbas, aiming to encircle Ukraine’s most experienced and best-equipped troops, and to seize territory still under Ukraine’s control.
Air strikes and artillery barrages make it extremely dangerous for journalists to move around in the east, hindering efforts to get a full picture of the fighting. But it appears to be a back-and-forth slog without major breakthroughs on either side.
Russia has captured some Donbas villages and towns, including Rubizhne, which had a pre-war population of around 55,000.
Mr Zelensky said Ukraine’s forces have also made progress in the east, retaking six towns or villages in the past day.
In his nightly address on Saturday, he said “the situation in Donbas remains very difficult” and Russian troops are “still trying to come out at least somewhat victorious”.
But he said: “Step by step, we are forcing the occupants to leave the Ukrainian land.”