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Grammys 2022: Watch Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Speak

"Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos," he said, "but the music will break through anyway."

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Video screenshot by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/CNET

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered an emotional pre-recorded message about Russia's war on his country at Sunday's Grammy Awards. In the speech, he encouraged listeners to tell Ukraine's story, through music, on television and on social networks and compared the war duties of Ukrainian musicians to the very different situation of the musicians attending the Grammys.

"The war," a raspy-voiced Zelenskyy said in the message, which was just over one minute long. "What is more opposite to music? 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.

"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 Grammy stage.

According to Variety, the message was shot within the last 48 hours, and was filmed in a bunker in Kyiv.

After Zelenskyy spoke, John Legend performed the song "Free," with Ukrainian musicians Siuzanna Iglidan and Mika Newton, and poet Lyuba Yakimchuk, while photos of the war in Ukraine were shown on large screens.

The Recording Academy, which puts on the Grammys, later tweeted that the group had "joined forces with (international education and advocacy organization Global Citizen) to #StandUpForUkraine," and encouraged followers to donate.

There was talk of Zelenskyy speaking at the March 27 Academy Awards, and actor Sean Penn said he would destroy his two Oscar statuettes if the Ukrainian president did not appear. He did not, and Penn's representative later told CNET that Penn did not watch the Oscars, but did not comment on the statuette destruciton.