But the venues canceled the performances in the wake an exchange Waters had with Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska in recent weeks — with Waters also facing potential censure from the Krakow City Council after a member submitted a proposal to declare him persona non grata.
Waters, who frequently speaks out on foreign policy issues and is no stranger to controversy because of it, said Saturday in a statement that the cancellation of his Polish shows would “be a sad loss for me.”
In early September, Waters published an open letter addressed to Zelenska, the wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In it, Waters professed incredulity about her assertion to the BBC that more support for Ukraine would bring the war to an end faster.
“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,” he wrote.
Waters went on to accuse the United States of having a vested interest in extending the war and said “extreme nationalists” in Ukraine were violating “any number of red lines that had been set out quite clearly over a number of years by your neighbors the Russian Federation,” putting Ukraine “on the path to this disastrous war” — a statement many interpreted as victim-blaming.
Zelenska responded on Twitter that Waters should “ask [Russian President Vladimir Putin] for peace. Not Ukraine.”
In contrast, Pink Floyd, which Waters left in an acrimonious breakup in the mid-1980s, released a single this year in support of Ukraine, “Hey Hey Rise Up,” its first new music in more than two decades. The song features Ukrainian vocalist Andriy Khlyvnyuk singing a Ukrainian anthem, and proceeds from its sale were earmarked for humanitarian relief.
Poland has been one of the staunchest defenders of Ukraine — with which it shares a border — since the Russian invasion. It has taken in by far the largest number of Ukrainian refugees in Europe and has pledged or donated aid to Kyiv at levels on par with, or in some cases exceeding, commitments made by countries with much stronger economies.