Roger Waters Says Ukraine Invasion Was ‘Not Unprovoked’ at UN Security Council
At Russia’s request, Pink Floyd founding member Roger Waters spoke at the United Nations Security Council meeting on Wednesday. The musician’s address was largely an anti-war broadside, as he condemned the for-profit military industrial complex and stressed the devastating toll of war, both on people and the environment.
As the subject of the meeting was Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, Waters did eventually get around to that as well. Waters condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “illegal,” but also said it was “not unprovoked.” He added, “So I also condemn the provocateurs in the strongest possible terms. There, that’s out of the way.”
These remarks about the war in Ukraine were far more subdued than some of the others Waters has made in the past, including in an interview with Rolling Stone. Last year, Waters said he believes his name is on a “kill list that is supported by the Ukrainian government.” In that same conversation, the singer shifted the blame from the ongoing war from Russia to NATO, suggesting that the organization essentially left Putin with no other choice but to invade Ukraine.
Elsewhere in his address to the UN, Waters made some linguistic choices that arguably reflected a pro-Russian bent, like referring to the “arming of the Kyiv regime by third parties.” He also spoke at one point about the “possibility of peace in the Ukraine” (emphasis added); the Ukrainian government has long disapproved of calling the country “the Ukraine,” as opposed to just “Ukraine,” as that’s how the country was referred to during the Soviet era. (Waters, in his interview with Rolling Stone, insisted he wasn’t making a political statement by calling it “the Ukraine.”)
But despite those choices, Waters seemed mostly concerned with using his pulpit to call for an end to the war in Ukraine, and all war. Positioning himself up as a voice for the “voiceless millions,” Waters said, “Thank you for hearing us today, we are many who do not share in the profits of the war industry. We do not willingly raise our sons and daughters to provide fodder for your canons. In our opinion, the only sensible course of action today is to call for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine. No ifs, no buts, no ands. Not one more Ukrainian or Russian life is to be spent — they are all precious in our eyes.”
Over the past six months, Waters has also used his platform as a sounding board for scorching political takes. In August, he branded President Joe Biden a “war criminal” during a CNN broadcast and claimed he was directly “fueling the war in the Ukraine.” Then, in September, Waters published an open letter to Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska that targeted the country’s Western weapons source.
Security Council diplomats within the United Nations criticized Waters’ appearance when it was first announced that he would be speaking. “Russian diplomacy used to be serious,” one shared anonymously with Reuters. “What’s next? Mr. Bean?” (Waters mentioned this quote in his address, quipping that the Mr. Bean reference suggested “it’s a penny-to-a-pound that the anonymous diplomat is an Englishman.”)