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UK hosting Eurovision for Ukraine is special moment of unity, say refugees

Ukraine's Eurovision entry this year was written during the fall of Mariupol.

Electronic duo Tvorchi will be performing the song, Heart of Steel, in the final on Saturday.

The group told Sky News that performing it in Liverpool - despite winning last year, Ukraine is unable to host the event for obvious reasons - feels bittersweet.

"We would be happier if this could happen in Ukraine, and we didn't experience the war and full-scale invasion," said Andrii Hutsuliak.

"But we want to say a huge thanks to the UK for hosting it and all the support we received, it means a lot to us."

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Getting to Liverpool meant succeeding in their national competition last year in Ukraine.

The event took place in a converted underground station in the capital Kyiv.

It was being used as a bomb shelter but was transformed into a TV studio and stage for the night and was live-streamed as 10 acts performed for a spot in Liverpool.

The UK stepping in to host this year's competition on their behalf means a lot to the refugees in the North West who have sought sanctuary there over the past year.

Anastasiia Spivak, 23, came to the UK six months ago to live with a host family.

Sky News met her as she was fundraising for Ukraine outside the concert venue, draped in the blue and yellow flag.

"I love seeing the Ukrainian signs, Ukrainian flag and colours everywhere I go. I really feel so warm in my heart because everyone here is really supporting our culture in many different ways," she said.

Tetiana Naimanova, 28, is with her also raising awareness about the conflict in Ukraine.

She said: "We are so grateful to Liverpool and the UK for having us here and hosting on behalf of Ukraine.

"This is really the unity of two countries, two cultures and having all people around the world, around Europe coming here and discovering Ukraine is so special."

Read more:
All you need to know about the Eurovision in Liverpool
MP seeks assurances voting will be protected from Russian threats

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They are both excited and proud that the Eurovision Song Contest is honouring Ukraine. It feels poignant to them both and much needed, as Tetiana explained.

"It's really important for us to have this moment in the middle of what's going on to find this opportunity to celebrate and to be together and to remind people that the war is still going on but we have to support each other.

"We have to do whatever we can to support Ukraine and we're really happy that we have the opportunities here to get that support."

Liverpool will have love and support in abundance come Saturday when they throw a party Ukraine wishes it could, and one day they hope will be able to again.