Roger Waters Advised to ‘Keep Strumming the Guitar’ After Addressing UN at Russia’s Invitation

( – Outspoken British rock musician Roger Waters attracted fresh controversy Wednesday after accepting a Russian invitation to address a U.N. Security Council meeting on Ukraine.

He drew scathing criticism from Ukraine’s ambassador after charging that the Russian invasion last February was “not unprovoked.”

“Keep strumming the guitar, Mr. Waters,” Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya advised the Pink Floyd co-founder and former bassist, who attended the meeting by video link. “It suits you more than lecturing the Security Council on how to do its job.”

“Mr. Waters knows so little,” Kyslytsya said elsewhere in his remarks, “but he seems to know it so fluently.”

U.S. Deputy Ambassador Richard Mills also questioned the musician’s expertise in weighing in on the conflict.


“While I certainly acknowledge his impressive credentials as a recording artist, his qualifications to speak to us as expert briefer on arms control or European security issues [are] less evident to me.”

“I’ll also leave to my Ukrainian colleague to address the credibility of Mr. Waters speaking on behalf of his so-called ‘brothers and sisters in Ukraine,’” Mills added.

Earlier Waters, 79, had purported to speak for Ukrainians as well as for “the voiceless majority” around the world suffering at the hands of war profiteers and the “neo-liberal capitalist” system.

“The voiceless majority is concerned that your wars – yes, your wars, for these perpetual wars are not of our choosing – that your wars will destroy the planet that is our home,” he said.

“And that along with every other living thing, we will be sacrificed on the altar of two things – profits from the war to line the pockets of the very, very few and the hegemonic march of some empire or other towards unipolar world domination.”

Waters, who has become known for acerbic condemnations of Israel and of Western foreign policy, told the council that he condemned the “illegal” Russian invasion of Ukraine “in the strongest possible terms.”

Then he added, “Also, the Russian invasion of Ukraine was not unprovoked. So I also condemn the provocateurs in the strongest possible terms.”

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, whose government had invited Waters to take part in the meeting, welcomed what he called a “very precise analysis” on the situation from “one of the most prominent activists of the contemporary anti-war movement.”

“The fact that he wanted to address us demonstrates the great deal of concern among the international creative intelligensia and among everyone about where our world is headed.”

In his remarks, Kyslytsya recalled that Pink Floyd was banned in the Soviet Union after condemning its invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

“It is ironic if not hypocritical that Mr. Waters attempts now to whitewash another invasion.”

With reference to one of Pink Floyd’s best-known songs, Kyslytsya continued, “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.”

‘Putin apologist’

Waters in the 1980s famously fell out with his former bandmates, who continued to perform under the name of Pink Floyd while Waters pursued a successful solo career.

He subsequently became an advocate for the Palestinian cause, threw his support behind the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, and came under fire for comparing Israelis’ treatment of the Palestinians with Nazis atrocities.

Waters’ stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also been provocative, essentially echoing Kremlin talking points about NATO expansion being to blame and accusing the West of fueling the conflict.

Concerts in Poland were canceled last fall after he wrote an open letter to the First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, placing blame for the war not on Russian President Vladimir Putin but on “extreme nationalists” in Ukraine who, he said, “have set your country on the path to this disastrous war.”

In contrast to his stand, former Pink Floyd members got together shortly after the invasion to release a song, featuring samples from Ukrainian musician Andriy Khlyvnyuk, entitled “Hey, Hey, Rise Up.”

“We want to raise funds for humanitarian charities, and raise morale,” the band’s guitarist, David Gilmour, said at the time. “We want to express our support for Ukraine and in that way, show that most of the world thinks that it is totally wrong for a superpower to invade the independent democratic country that Ukraine has become.”

In a recent interview with German newspaper Berliner Zeitung, Waters mused, “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.”

He also said he stood by his previous Israel-Nazi comparison, and accused the Israelis of “committing genocide.”

Apparently in reaction to that Berliner Zeitung interview, Gilmour’s wife (and Pink Floyd songwriter) Polly Samson tweeted this week, “Sadly [Roger Waters] you are antisemitic to your rotten core. Also a Putin apologist and a lying, thieving, hypocritical, tax-avoiding, lip-synching, misogynistic, sick-with-envy, megalomaniac. Enough of your nonsense.”

Gilmour then retweeted his wife’s post, adding, “every word demonstrably true.”

In response, Waters posted a short statement saying that he refuted Samson’s “incendiary and wildly inaccurate comments” and suggested that he was taking legal advice.


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