(NEXSTAR) – The opening segment of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” known as the cold open, is typically dedicated to a skit bringing humor to a recent event. During its most recent episode, “SNL” used its cold open to pay tribute to Ukraine.
Saturday’s episode opened with “SNL” cast members Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong introducing the Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York. The group of singers, wearing traditional outfits, sang “Prayer for Ukraine.” In front of them was a table with candles spelling out “Kyiv,” Ukraine’s capital city. Surrounding the table were bouquets of yellow flowers, half of Ukraine’s national colors, which are yellow and blue.
After the choir’s somber performance, McKinnon and Strong returned to deliver the customary line that begins each show – “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night.” The camera then focused on the table of candles before cutting to the commercial break.
You can watch the full cold open here.
Later on in the show, Colin Jost and Michael Che dedicated much of their segment, “Weekend Update,” to discuss Ukraine. Breaking from tradition, there were no feature character guest cameos during Saturday’s “Weekend Update.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a “military operation” in Ukraine on Thursday. Putin accused the U.S. and its allies of ignoring Russia’s demand to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and offer Moscow security guarantees. He said Russia doesn’t intend to occupy Ukraine but will move to “demilitarize” it and bring those who committed crimes to justice.
Sunday, Putin ordered Russian nuclear forces put on high alert in response to what he called “aggressive statements” by leading NATO powers. The order means Putin wants Russia’s nuclear weapons prepared for increased readiness to launch and raises the threat that Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and the West’s response to it could boil over into nuclear warfare.
Earlier Sunday, Kyiv was eerily quiet after huge explosions lit up the morning sky and authorities reported blasts at one of the airports.
“The past night was tough – more shelling, more bombing of residential areas and civilian infrastructure,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
Until Sunday, Russia’s troops had remained on the outskirts of Kharkiv, a city of 1.4 million about 12.4 miles south of the border with Russia, while other forces rolled past to press the offensive deeper into Ukraine.
Videos posted on Ukrainian media and social networks showed Russian vehicles moving across Kharkiv and Russian troops roaming the city in small groups. One showed Ukrainian troops firing at the Russians and damaged Russian light utility vehicles abandoned nearby.
The images underscored the determined resistance Russian troops face while attempting to enter Ukraine’s bigger cities. Ukrainians have volunteered en masse to help defend Kyiv and other cities, taking guns distributed by authorities and preparing firebombs to fight Russian forces.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.