Sting Sings ‘Russians’ for Ukraine Refugees in Rare Performance
Speaking out. Sting returned to a 1985 song that he hoped would no longer be needed more than 30 years later.
“I’ve only rarely sung this song in the many years since it was written, because I never thought it would be relevant again,” the 70-year-old told fans in a video via Instagram on Saturday, March 5. “But, in the light of one man’s bloody and woefully misguided decision to invade a peaceful, unthreatening neighbor, the song is, once again, a plea for our common humanity.”
The song, simply titled “Russians,” was first released as a single from The Dream of the Blue Turtles, his first solo album after breaking away from his band, The Police. It was among his highest charting songs in the first decade of his solo career.
In Saturday’s video, Sting concluded, “For the brave Ukrainians fighting against this brutal tyranny and also the many Russians who are protesting this outrage — despite the threat of arrest and imprisonment – We, all of us, love our children. Stop the war.”
The Only Murders in the Building actor launched into a live version of the song, recorded along with cellist Ramiro Belgardt. His caption included an address to send supplies to Ukrainian refugees in Poland as well as information hotlines and a link to Help Ukraine.
The England native, who has been married to wife Trudie Styler since 1992, wrote the song amid the Cold War, which didn’t end until 1991. The musician said in the 2007 book Lyrics by Sting that he’d been inspired while with a friend at Columbia University who had access to a computer that intercepted a Soviet TV signal, and he was taken aback by the wholesome nature of a children’s program.
“The shows seemed thoughtful and sweet, and I suddenly felt the need to state something obvious in the face of all this rhetoric: Russians love their children just as we do,” he explained in the book.
Sting told Record Magazine in 1985 that he doesn’t consider “Russians” to be in favor of Russian rule at all.
“It’s up to individuals to make contact with one’s counterpart behind the so-called Iron Curtain in order to ascertain and confirm that they are human beings and not demographic sub-robotic morons,” he said at the time.
He added, “It’s not a pro-Soviet song, it’s pro-children.”
Sting is the latest in a growing number of stars who have called for peace amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds donated $1 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Bethenny Frankel‘s B Strong is on the ground getting supplies to displaced people.
Ashton Kutcher and wife Mila Kunis, who was born in Ukraine, have also launched a GoFundMe campaign for refugees, which included a promise to match up to $3 million in donations. They aim to raise $30 million overall.
“Today, I am a proud Ukrainian. While my family came to the United States in 1991, I was born in Chernivtsi, Ukraine in 1983,” Kunis, 38, wrote alongside the fundraiser. “Ukrainians are proud and brave people who deserve our help in their time of need. This unjust attack on Ukraine and humanity at large is devastating and the Ukrainian people need our support. Our family is starting this fund to help provide immediate support and we will be matching up to $3 million dollars.”
The Black Swan star added, “While we are witnessing the bravery of Ukrainians, we are also bearing witness to the unimaginable burden of those who have chosen safety. Countless amounts of people have left everything they know and love behind to seek refuge. With nothing but what they could carry, these Ukrainian refugees are in need of housing and supplies right away.”