Last May, before being newly re-elected as president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva claimed that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, bear equal responsibility for the war in Ukraine. Yet whether the refusal to pick sides comes from Brazil, South Africa, or India, claiming to be “neutral” on Russia’s war of aggression is untenable.
The same is true of individuals. If a passerby saw a man relentlessly beating a child on a street corner, we would expect the witness to try to stop it. Neutrality is out of the question. On the contrary, we would deplore the moral turpitude of inaction.
How, then, should we respond to Roger Waters’ recent remarks to the United Nations Security Council? In a video call, the activist and Pink Floyd co-founder claimed to be speaking for “four billion or so brothers and sisters” around the world. He acknowledged that Russia’s war in Ukraine is illegal and should be condemned “in the strongest possible terms.” But then he hastened to add:
“The Russian invasion of Ukraine was not unprovoked, so I also condemn the provocateurs in the strongest possible terms….[T]he only sensible course of action today is to call for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine. Not one more Ukrainian or Russian life is to be spent, not one, they are all precious in our eyes. So the time has come to speak truth to power.”
Is Waters’ “truth” really an expression of neutrality? In an interview earlier this month with Berliner Zeitung, he said: “Maybe I shouldn’t be, but I am now more open to listen to what Putin actually says. According to independent voices I listen to, he governs carefully, making decisions on the grounds of a consensus in the Russian Federation government.”
As an independent voice who follows Russian media very closely, I am well acquainted with what Putin and his propagandists “actually say.” The major TV channels are full of commentators recommending that countries like Poland, Germany, or the United Kingdom be nuked. The Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov, one of Putin’s closes allies, now openly calls for “the fight against Satanism [to] continue throughout Europe and, first of all, on the territory of Poland.” [Continue reading…]