Following the recent cancellation of two of his shows in Poland in 2023, Roger Waters wrote an open letter to Russia President Vladimir Putin on Sept. 25, asking the leader to promise not to “overrun the whole of Europe.”
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“Firstly, would you like to see an end to this war?,” wrote Waters in the letter posted on his Facebook page along with a video from his stage, flashing “Make Love, Not War.” Waters added, “If you were to reply and say, ‘Yes please.’ That would immediately make things a lot easier. If you were to come out and say, ‘Also the Russian Federation has no further territorial interest beyond the security of the Russian-speaking populations of The Crimea, Donetsk, and Lubansk.’ That would help too. I say this because, I know some people who think you want to overrun the whole of Europe, starting with Poland and the rest of the Baltic states. If you do, fuck you, and we might as well all stop playing the desperately dangerous game of nuclear chicken that the hawks on both sides of the Atlantic seem so comfortable with, and have at it.”
Waters added, “The problem is, I have kids and grandkids, and so do most of my brothers and sisters all over the world and none of us would relish that outcome. So, please Mr. Putin indulge me, and make us that assurance.”
His letter comes days after two of his upcoming shows on his This Is Not a Drill Tour, which was scheduled in Krakow, Poland on April 21 and 22 in 2023, were canceled. Though a representative for the venue said that Waters’ management withdrew from the show without giving a reason, Waters recently said that the decision was made by the local government who have heavily criticized his recent stance on the war in Ukraine. The Krakow city council is also reportedly voting on Sept. 28 to name Waters a persona non grata.
The artist recently came under criticism after depicting U.S. President Joe Biden as a “war criminal” (in a video montage on his tour) for providing support to the people of Ukraine. “That is a huge crime,” said Waters during an interview with Michael Smerconish on CNN. “Why won’t the United States of America encourage [Volodymyr] Zelensky to negotiate, obviating the need for this horrific, horrendous war?”
Waters also suggested that NATO actions have instigated the war in Ukraine: “This war is basically about the action and reaction of NATO pushing right up to the Russian border, which they promised they wouldn’t do when [Mikhail] Gorbachev negotiated the withdrawal of the USSR from the whole of Eastern Europe.”
In early September 2022, Waters also wrote an open letter to the first lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, asking her husband to consider compromising with Russia. “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 Ukraine,” wrote Waters on Facebook. “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.”
On April 8, 2022, Pink Floyd released their first song in nearly three decades to help raise money for Ukraine Humanitarian Relief with the single and video for “Hey Hey Rise Up.” Their first release since the 1994 album, The Division Bell, “Hey Hey Rise Up” featured Pink Floyd guitarist and singer David Gilmour with drummer Nick Mason, along with longtime bass player Guy Pratt and Nitin Sawhney on keyboards. Waters split from the group in the mid-1980s and did not participate on the track.
The current leg of Waters’ This Is Not a Drill Tour runs through Oct. 15 in Mexico City and will start up again in March 2023.
Photo: Franco Origlia/Getty Images