Pink Floyd star Roger Waters has used a speech to the United Nations to repeat his controversial claim that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was “provoked”.
The musician was invited by Russia to address the UN Security Council.
He called for a ceasefire and condemned Russia’s “illegal” invasion, but also denounced “provocateurs” in the West who he claimed were responsible.
Ukrainian ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya called Waters’ speech “another brick in the wall” of Russian disinformation.
Russia asked Waters to address the 15-member Security Council following an interview with a German newspaper, in which he praised Vladimir Putin’s leadership.
However, the 79-year-old singer, who appeared with his dog, surprised his sponsors by modifying his position on the war.
“The invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation was illegal. I condemn it in the strongest possible terms,” he said via video link.
“Also, the Russian invasion of Ukraine was not unprovoked, so I also condemn the provocateurs in the strongest possible terms.”
Rather than representing the view of Russia, the musician said he was speaking on behalf of “four billion or so brothers and sisters” – the majority of Earth’s population.
He continued: “So what do the voiceless millions have to say? They say 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 cannons.
“In our opinion, the only sensible course of action today is to call for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine. Not one more Ukrainian or Russian life is to be spent, not one, they are all precious in our eyes.”
Roger Waters addressed the UN Security CouncilImage source, Getty Images
The musician was speaking from his home in Switzerland, joined by his dog
Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, glossed over the musician’s reference to the illegality of the invasion.
The diplomat complimented his “very precise analysis of events” and reiterated his belief that the West was waging war against his country.
Other members were less enamoured by the speech.
The deputy UN ambassador for the US, Richard Mills, said: “I certainly acknowledge he has impressive credentials as a recording artist. His qualifications to speak to us as an expert briefer on arms control or European security issues seem less evident to me.”
‘Ironic, if not hypocritical’
Ukraine’s Mr Kyslytsya referenced Pink Floyd lyrics in his response, noting that the band had once been outlawed by the Soviet Union for protesting against its 1979 invasion of Afghanistan.
“It is ironic, if not hypocritical, that Mr Waters attempts now to whitewash another invasion,” said Mr Kyslytsya.
“How sad for his former fans to see him accepting the role of just another brick in the wall – the wall of Russian disinformation and propaganda.”
President Putin has repeatedly blamed Nato’s expansion and Ukraine’s push to join it for the invasion. But Eastern European countries sought to join the defensive alliance as a protective measure against Russia, while Sweden and Finland applied to join only after the February 2022 invasion.
Pink Floyd in the 1970sImage source, Getty Images
Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon is one of the biggest-selling albums of all time
Albania’s UN representative, Ferit Hoxha, noted how Waters’ former bandmates had released a song in support of Ukraine last year.
That release deepened the already-cavernous rift between Waters and Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour.
In his interview with Berliner Zeitung, Waters said: “I find it really, really sad. It encourages the continuation of the war.
“Pink Floyd is a name I used to be associated with… To associate that name now with something like this proxy war makes me sad.”
Dark Side Of The Moon revisited
In response to that statement, and Waters’ proclamations about Israel in recent years, Gilmour’s wife, Polly Samson, tweeted this week that Waters is “a Putin apologist” as well as “anti-Semitic to your rotten core”.
Gilmour endorsed his wife’s statement, adding: “Every word demonstrably true.”
Waters called Samson’s comments “incendiary and wildly inaccurate”, and said he refutes them “entirely”.
In a further deterioration of relations, Waters has told the Telegraph he has re-recorded Pink Floyd’s iconic 1973 album The Dark Side Of The Moon, to reclaim it from his old band.
“I wrote The Dark Side of the Moon,” he said. “Let’s get rid of all this ‘we’ crap. Of course we were a band – there were four of us, we all contributed – but it’s my project and I wrote it, so, blah.”
According to the official credits on the album, Waters wrote all the lyrics and contributed music to five of the 10 tracks.
In his Telegraph interview, the musician tore into his bandmates, including late keyboardist Rick Wright, claiming they “can’t write” lyrics.
“Well, Nick [Mason, drummer] never pretended. But Gilmour and Rick? They can’t write songs, they’ve nothing to say.
“They are not artists. They have no ideas – not a single one between them. They never have had, and that drives them crazy.”