Roger Waters has called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “illegal” but said the war was “not unprovoked”.
The former Pink Floyd member spoke at the United Nations Security Council meeting earlier today (February 8), after being requested to do so by Russian officials.
After speaking more broadly about war, its effects on citizens and the environment, and more, Waters shared his thoughts on the current war in Ukraine. The musician and activist said he would “endeavour to express what I believe to be the feelings of countless of our brothers and sisters across the world”.
“The invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation was illegal and I condemn it in the strongest possible terms,” Waters said. “Also, the Russian invasion was not unprovoked, so I also condemn the provocateurs in the strongest possible terms. There – that’s got that out of the way.”
Elsewhere in the speech, the star warned that sacrificing the people for profits or world domination would “lead only to disaster”. “Everyone on that road has a red button in their briefcase,” he said. “The further we go down that road, the closer the itchy fingers get to that red button and the closer we all get to armageddon.”
He also responded to comments mocking his appearance at the council, in which an anonymous council member asked: “What next – Mr Bean?”
“To those who don’t know, Mr Bean is an ineffectual character in an English comedy show on television, so it’s a penny to a pound the anonymous diplomat is an Englishman,” Waters scoffed.
He concluded the speech by telling the Security Council: “In our opinion, the only sensible option 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, not one – they are all precious in our eyes.”
Watch Waters’ speech in the livestream above.
The musician’s appearance at the meeting follows his writing of an open letter to Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska in September, in which he weighed in on the Western supply of weapons to Ukraine. Responding to Zelenska’s calls for “strong” support from the West, Waters wrote: “If by ‘support for Ukraine’ you mean the West continuing to supply arms to the Kiev government’s armies, I fear you may be tragically mistaken. Throwing fuel, in the form of armaments, into a fire fight… won’t work”.
Recently, he also criticised his former Pink Floyd bandmates for releasing the charity single ‘Hey Hey Rise Up’ last year, which raised funds for humanitarian charities working to help those affected by the war. “It encourages the continuation of the war,” Waters said. “To associate [Pink Floyd] now with something like this… proxy war makes me sad.”
Waters’ comments drew criticism from his former bandmate David Gilmour and his wife, author Polly Samson. The latter shared a tweet branding Waters as “a Putin apologist”, calling him a “lying, thieving, hypocritical, tax-avoiding, lip-synching, misogynistic, sick-with-envy, megalomaniac.” Glimour later re-shared the tweet with the caption: “every word [is] demonstrably true”.
Waters himself issued a statement in response to Samson’s comments, saying he “refutes [them] entirely” and that they are “incendiary and wildly inaccurate”. The musician said he is “taking advice as to his position” regarding Samson’s claims.