Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters has criticised Olena Zelenska in a new open letter.
The prog musician has an affirmed anti-militaristic stance, something he returns to frequently in his music. It stems from autobiography: Roger Waters scarcely knew his father, who was killed at Anzio during the Second World War.
However this can also lead to criticism – his pro-Palestinian views have resulted in comments deemed anti-semitic by some, while his blanket support for Julian Assange has also brought condemnation.
A new open letter on social media is addressed to Olena Zelenska, the First Lady of Ukraine. In the message, he aims to tackle comments she made during an interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, stating that “if support for Ukraine is strong, the crisis will be shorter.”
The musician’s letter is titled: “Did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?”
Roger Waters hits back: Hmmm? I guess that might depend on what you mean by “support for Ukraine”? 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, has never worked to shorten a war in the past, and it won’t work now, particularly because, in this case, most of the fuel is (a) being thrown into the fire from Washington DC, which is at a relatively safe distance from the conflagration, and (b) because the ‘fuel throwers’ have already declared an interest in the war going on for as long as possible.
He writes: I fear that we, and by we I mean people like you and me who actually want peace in Ukraine, who don’t want the outcome to be that you have to fight to the last Ukrainian life, and possibly even, if the worst comes to the worst, to the last human life. If we, instead, wish to achieve a different outcome we may have to seek a different route and that route may lie in your husband’s previously stated good intentions.
The letter – which never once directly mentions of critiques the actions of Putin’s invading army – contains a number of controversial viewpoints. Spelling ‘Kiev’ in the Russian manner – Ukrainians spell the city ‘Kyiv’ – has raised ire, while Roger Waters also seems to ascribe some blame to Ukraine for the ongoing war.
He writes: Sadly, your old man agreed to those totalitarian, anti-democratic dismissals of the will of the Ukrainian people, and the forces of extreme nationalism that had lurked, malevolent, in the shadows, have, since then, ruled the Ukraine. They have, also since then, crossed any number of red lines that had been set out quite clearly over a number of years by your neighbors the Russian Federation and in consequence they, the extreme nationalists, have set your country on the path to this disastrous war.
The full letter can be found on Facebook.
The letter has brought immediate condemnation, with some online dubbing Roger Waters a ‘confused old has-been’ and a ‘random old guy’ who is ‘comfortably dumb’.
The remaining members of Pink Floyd have a different stance – the group reunited to release ‘Hey Hey Rise Up’, their first song in decades, to raise funds for those on the ground in the conflict.