The veteran Pink Floyd rocker, Roger Waters, has addressed the UN security council at Russia’s invitation, and called for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine. But he was denounced by the Ukrainian ambassador as “just another brick in the wall” of Moscow’s propaganda.
Waters spoke via a video link, dressed in a light brown tweed jacket, appearing on a screen looming over representatives of the 15 nations on the council, convened on Wednesday to discuss the situation in Ukraine.
The 79-year-old co-founder of Pink Floyd had been invited to speak by the Russian delegation, but claimed to be representing “4 billion or so brothers and sisters”, the majority of humanity.
Waters owns a $62m estate on Long Island about 150km from UN headquarters, but on Wednesday, he was speaking from Switzerland, under a wooden-beamed ceiling, with a snow-covered mountain visible through the window behind him.
The Russian delegation’s invitation followed an interview Waters had given to the Berliner Zeitung in which he had been highly complimentary towards Vladimir Putin, who he said, according to a translation on his own website, “governs carefully, making decisions on the grounds of a consensus in the Russian Federation government.”
In that 4 February interview, Waters held the west and Ukraine largely responsible for the Russian invasion. However, Waters did not stick to the same line in his security council remarks, blaming Russia and the west for the war.
“The invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation was illegal. I condemn it in the strongest possible terms,” he said. “Also, the Russian invasion of Ukraine was not unprovoked, so I also condemn the provocateurs in the strongest possible terms.”
Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, glossed over Waters’ reference to the illegality of the invasion. In remarks apparently prepared before Waters spoke, the diplomat complimented him on “a very precise analysis of events”. He called him “one of the most prominent activists of the contemporary anti war movement”.
The Ukrainian ambassador, Sergiy Kyslytsya, was the last to speak and used the opportunity to draw on Pink Floyd’s musical past – and in particular their use of floating pigs at their concerts – to eviscerate Waters.
Kyslytsya noted that Pink Floyd had been banned by the Soviet Union for protesting against the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan.
“It is ironic, if not hypocritical, that Mr Waters attempts now to whitewash another invasion,” the Ukrainian diplomat said. “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.”
“Keep strumming the guitar, Mr Waters,” the ambassador concluded. “It suits you more than lecturing the security council on how to do its job. No flying pigs here, please.”
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