Roger Waters and other Putin supporters need to be silent or denounce Russia

Roger Waters and other Putin supporters need to be silent or denounce Russia

I was in a bomb bunker in Kiev with scores of civilians when we were bombarded by rockets earlier this month. Putin wanted for his bombs to do more than just punishment. He wished for their destruction of the electrical infrastructure and heating systems that kept Ukraine comfortable throughout its harsh winters.

I oversee an organization in Ukraine called The Reckoning Project that investigates war atrocities. Our goal is to collect wartime testimony, which we then verify, preserve, and use to construct cases for future war crimes courts. Never has it been more important to stand on the right side of history than when it comes to the battle in Ukraine.

With Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, the decision is crystal obvious, as the situation is crystal apparent: Vladimir Putin is targeting civilians. He has assaulted women and children stuck at railway stations, family-filled apartment buildings, retail malls, hospitals, and schools.

Putin, who was pictured earlier this month, has intentionally targeted civilian areas throughout Ukraine.

For the first time, the majority of countries (and people) in the globe have adopted a unified and firm stand against Putin. In both politics and popular culture, however, there are numerous dissidents.

The loudest among them is former Pink Floyd vocalist Roger Waters, who has supported not one, but two deadly dictators: Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad. Waters has also created some of rock’s most amazing songs.

Roger Waters has not only backed Russia, but he also disparaged Western peacekeepers in Syria during its deadly civil war in 2019.
Getty Pictures

Back in 2019, Waters was criticized for insulting the White Helmets battalions sponsored by the West, who saved Syrian civilians from Assad’s soldiers. In August of this year, he referred to Joe Biden as a “war criminal” for “feeding the flames in the Ukraine.” A month later, he issued an open letter to Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska on Facebook, accusing her husband of fanning tensions in his country by capitulating to “forces of extreme nationalism that had lurked, malevolently, [and] have governed the Ukraine since then.” A month ago, he acknowledged to Rolling Stone that he is on “a Ukrainian death list.”

Noam Chomsky is a fanatical anti-Western thinker. During a literary festival in Edinburgh in August, he was cited as saying that we should give Russia the benefit of the doubt since “we do not know precisely what Putin’s aims were” in invading Ukraine. His kindness toward Russia, although being repugnant, is a classic Marxist trait. No matter how untrue, everything involving NATO, the United States, or the European Union is immediately associated with Western attempts at regime change.

According to Waters, humanitarian workers, not Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, were responsible for the murder of 34 people in heavily bombarded Douma.

Putin’s friends in China, Syria, and Iran continue to publicly support his homicidal war. However, the political backing of the Russian president extends well beyond these traditional suspects.

On the left is former Bolivian President Evo Morales, a populist progressive who still has influence in Latin America. In March, he made it obvious that he is on Putin’s side and called for the “world mobilization” of troops against Nato. Much of Africa, which has historically supported Russia during the Soviet era, continues to support the Russian strongman. In March, South Africa abstained from a United Nations vote condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, whilst Eritrea voted categorically against the resolution.

Linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky was criticized for saying in August that Putin’s goals in Ukraine be given the “benefit of the doubt.”

Former Bolivian President Evo Morales (seen above with his Argentine colleague Alberto Fernandez) called for a “universal mobilization” of troops against NATO in March of this year.

In March, Donald Trump praised Vladimir Putin’s decision to place 200,000 soldiers on the Russian border with Ukraine as an example of his “great negotiation skills,” whereas Victor Orban, the authoritarian leader of Hungary, has been widely criticized for adopting a “neutral” stance since the Russian invasion.

All sides commit war crimes, but Putin’s atrocities in Ukraine significantly outnumber those of the opposing side.

And it would be a big error to support Vladimir Putin and his horrible playbook in any manner. Especially while the possibility of nuclear attacks seemed to rise daily.

Waters penned an open letter to Olena Zelenska, the first lady of Ukraine, ostensibly requesting that she ask her husband to cede Ukrainian territory to Russia.

The author would want all of Putin’s fans to join her in an air raid bunker in Ukraine to see whether or not their anti-Western sentiments can withstand an attack.

As I waited in a Kyiv bomb shelter for more missiles to fall, I hoped I could bring all of Putin’s fans there with me, if only for an hour. I would like to see if their conspiracy theories, aversion to humanitarian involvement, and anti-Western sentiments stand up under fire (I doubt it would). I want to emphasize to them the prospect of a nuclear winter, which would irrevocably alter the peace and security of the planet.

This is not music to anyone’s ears, yet it is a melody I hope artists like Roger Waters would perform.

The executive director of The Reckoning Project: Ukraine Testifies is Janine di Giovanni. She has published nine books and has worked in war zones for over three decades. She is a Visiting Fellow at the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins.


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