IMPACT

Ukraine's Got Talent: Kseniya Simonova's Sand-Art Recounts Wartime Brutality (VIDEO)

04/13/2014 06:28 EDT | Updated 04/14/2014 05:59 EDT

These tears in the sand may prove timeless.

A Ukrainian artist's heart-wrenching tale of a nation under siege -- etched in ever-shifting sands -- has been viewed on YouTube more than 26 million times.

"Amazing talent. Touching," writes user Francis Beksonfjord. "This is clearly about the Russian attack on Ukraine and civilized world. Why Putin?"

Except the video was uploaded back in 2009.

At just over eight minutes long, Kseniya Simonova's entry for Ukraine's Got Talent rings of epic storytelling -- countless grains of sand swishing over a light panel to tell the story of young love crushed under the heel of the Second World War.

Simonova would win the competition, after reducing judges -- and much of the audience -- to tears. Her prize? About $110,000. More importantly, a universal message about the blight of war has found fresh resonance today.

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Trouble In Ukraine's East

Since Russia's annexation of Crimea in March, both Eastern and Western powers have raised the specter of World War 2 -- from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dropping the H-bomb, comparing Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler to Russia loudly proclaiming Ukraine's new leadership a nest of neo-Nazis.

As Vartan Oskanian, Armenia's former foreign minister, writes in Al Jazeera, "the WWII parallels are emanating from those in positions of power and influence, and it's heard in real time, as the situation evolves."

"The truth is," Oskanian concludes, "The world today is hugely different from what it was."

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A boy looks out from the window of a bus in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk on April 13, 2014. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF

No allusion to that catastrophic conflict, however, is lost on Ukraine -- a nation that lost millions between 1939 and 1945.

Of course, Simonova, who was 24 when she performed on the show, had less lofty ambitions for her lines in the sand.

"I only entered because there was a child I know who needed an operation and I wanted to help," Simonova told the Guardian in 2009. "I did not mean to make the whole country cry."