Volodymyr Zelensky described Glastonbury as “the greatest concentration of freedom” as he addressed the festival calling on the world to “spread the truth” about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Ukrainian president spoke via a video message broadcast before the opening of the Libertines stage on the big screens of the Other Stage on Friday.
“The festival resumes this year after a two-year hiatus, the pandemic has suspended the lives of millions of people around the world, but has not broken out,” Mr Zelensky told the crowd of thousands.
“We in Ukraine would also like to live life as before and enjoy the freedom and this wonderful summer, but we cannot because the most terrible thing has happened – Russia has stolen our peace.
“That’s why I turn to you in support of Glastonbury, the greatest concentration of freedom today and ask that you share this sentiment with all those whose freedom is under threat.”
Mr Zelensky said Ukraine ‘will not let Russia’s war break us’ and wants the war to end before it ‘ruins the lives of people in other countries of Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America”.
“Spread the truth about Russia’s war, help Ukrainians who are forced to flee their homes because of the war,” he said.
“Time is priceless and every day is measured in human lives. The more people join us in defending freedom and truth, the sooner Russia’s war against Ukraine will end. Prove that freedom always wins!
He ended his message by saying “Slava Ukraini”, which translates to “glory to Ukraine” in English, which was met with loud, rolling cheers and applause among those gathered on the Worthy Farm stage, Somerset.
Mr Zelensky also called on people to visit his charity platform United24, which collects donations to help Ukraine’s response to the Russian invasion.
The Ukrainian president’s message comes before Billie Eilish makes history when she takes to the Pyramid Stage on Friday night as Glastonbury Festival’s youngest solo headliner.
The 20-year-old Grammy-winning singer will perform alongside her brother and co-writer, Finneas O’Connell.
The American pop star made her Glastonbury debut in 2019 when she performed on the Other Stage and treated crowds to a string of tunes such as Bad Guy and You Should See Me In A Crown.
The weather is expected to be dry during his performance, despite the high chance of showers throughout the afternoon.
On the day Eilish headlines Glastonbury, Sir Paul McCartney will prepare for his Saturday headline by performing at a Somerset concert hall.
As well as Eilish, Friday’s Pyramid Stage lineup includes Sam Fender, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Crowded House, Rufus Wainwright and Wolf Alice – whose looks are on the line due to travel issues.
Other artists performing on Friday include the Sugababes on the Avalon Stage, and Foals and St Vincent on the Other Stage, which also features Friday performances from Kae Tempest and The Libertines.
Eurovision winners Kalush Orchestra will also mark their first UK performance since winning, with a performance on Shangri-La’s Truth Stage on Friday.