Pink Floyd star Roger Waters has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and called for a ceasefire – but also said he believes the war was provoked – during an address to the UN Security Council at Moscow’s invitation.
The veteran musician was denounced by Ukraine‘s UN ambassador as “another brick in the wall” of Russian “disinformation and propaganda”, in reference to his former band’s most famous song, following his speech.
It comes amid an ongoing row between the Pink Floyd co-founder and the band’s guitarist and singer David Gilmour, over issues including comments he has made on Israel and the Ukraine war.
Russia called the meeting on Wednesday to discuss the delivery of weapons to Ukraine and asked Waters, who argued against the Western supply of arms to Kyiv in a letter published on his website in September, to brief.
The rocker, 79, also recently gave an interview to a German newspaper, which was translated into English on his own website, in which he said about Vladimir Putin: “According to independent voices I listen to he governs carefully, making decisions on the grounds of a consensus in the Russian Federation government.”
He added: “I wonder: is Putin a bigger gangster than Joe Biden and all those in charge of American politics since World War II? I am not so sure. Putin didn’t invade Vietnam or Iraq? Did he?”
When asked about his former bandmates recording with Ukrainian musician Andriy Khlyvnuk, he said he felt “really, really sad” as it “encourages the continuation of the war”.
Appearing virtually to address the security council at the UN headquarters in New York, Waters condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as illegal, but also said it “was not unprovoked”, according to the Reuters news agency. He condemned “the provocateurs in the strongest possible terms”, but did not give specifics.
“The only sensible course of action today is to call for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine,” Waters said.
Credentials to speak on security issues questioned
Richard Mills, the deputy US ambassador to the United Nations, acknowledged Waters’ “impressive credentials as a recording artist”, but said his qualifications to speak on arms control or European security issues were “less evident”.
Ukraine’s UN Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya told the council: “How sad for his former fans to see him accepting the role of just a brick in the wall – the wall of Russian disinformation and propaganda.”
Waters was one of the co-founders of Pink Floyd with Nick Mason, Richard Wright and Syd Barrett, but left in 1985 – leading to legal battles over the use of the band’s name.
The influential prog rock group reunited for Live 8 in 2005 but Waters has not performed with them since.
What has Waters said?
His comments on Russia and the war, as well as comments on Israel, have sparked criticism.
Sharing the article with Berliner Zeitung on Sunday, the star said it had been published “against the backdrop of the outrageous and despicable smear campaign by the ISRAELI LOBBY to denounce me as an ANTI-SEMITE, WHICH I AM NOT, NEVER HAVE BEEN and NEVER WILL BE.
“Against [the] backdrop of them trying to silence me because I lend my voice to the seventy five year old fight for equal human rights for all my brothers and sisters in Palestine/Israel, irrespective of their ethnicity, religion or nationality.”
On Monday, Gilmour’s wife Polly Samson – a lyricist who helped write several Pink Floyd songs for their 1994 album The Division Bell – criticised him on Twitter, accusing him of being “antisemitic” and a “Putin apologist”, among other claims.
Gilmour, who has a Ukrainian daughter-in-law and grandchildren, retweeted and liked her post, adding: “Every word demonstrably true.”
A statement in response was later shared by Waters’ official Twitter account, saying: “Roger Waters is aware of the incendiary and wildly inaccurate comments made about him on Twitter by Polly Samson which he refutes entirely. He is currently taking advice as to his position.”
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In an interview with The Daily Telegraph published on Wednesday, Waters revealed he has re-recorded a new version of The Dark Side Of The Moon, the band’s seminal 1973 album, without any involvement from his former bandmates.
Speaking to the Telegraph about his forthcoming vinyl release of the album, Waters said he had “no idea” how to get around copyright issues, and that he remade it “because not enough people recognised what it’s about”.
He also spoke about his views on the Ukraine war, reportedly saying it would be “f****** insane” to believe that Russia’s invasion was unprovoked.
He also said: “The Ukraine… is a deeply divided country. In fact, it’s not really a country at all, it’s only been there since Khrushchev, 1956. So it’s a patchy sort of vague experiment.”
Sky News has contacted representatives for Waters and Gilmour for comment.