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The props were simple, the message was clear. In a video address to the nation this week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held up his smartphone to the camera and started a timer app while an air raid siren blared.

"It lasted 20 seconds," Zelenskyy said, after the wailing subsided. "And we hear it for hours, days, weeks. Our people … instantly take their children, help the elderly, and go to the shelters … to survive, from Russian missiles, bombs."

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