Sting’s “Russians” Lyrics Meaning

We live in a world of propaganda. For instance, if the country you live in has beef with another, such as say the United States has with Russia, then you shouldn’t expect to log in to the mainstream media and see said enemy being portrayed favorably. This was especially true back when this song (“Russians”) was dropped. This was during the pre-internet days when readily-available information sources were woefully limited (and therefore biased). 

But if you were able to access some alternate sources of information, sometimes the things you discover about ‘the enemy’, beyond the stereotypes upon which they are conventionally depicted, may blow your mind.

An Eye-opening Moment!

One day, in the wild of the night, Sting and a homey decided to, let’s say illegally tap into a Russian satellite TV station. In doing so, they stumbled upon type of media that was inaccessible via standard television in the United States. What they came across, according to Sting’s own words, was a program akin to a Russian version of Sesame Street. And via this viewing, he was surprised to perceive just how much the Russians actually love their children.

And you may be saying to yourself, ‘well yeah, of course the Russians love their children, just like everybody else does’. But the point being made is that the media is a lot more powerful than we who constantly ingest it actually realize. Hollywood for instance has been demonizing Russians since time immemorial. 

So again, suddenly and unexpectedly coming across a point of view different from the mainstream can prove to be an epiphany-like moment.

And it was that Russian Sesame Street experience which led to Sting penning this song. The singer came to the conclusion, with this again being pre-internet, that propagating peace between the East and West should be more of a peer-to-peer initiative than something that should be left up to politicians. So this track served as part of Sting’s own contribution to the Cold War peace process.

Conclusive Sentiment of “Russians”

In the first verse, we have the vocalist noting how tense it is for global citizens to live under such a predicament, i.e. the prospect of nuclear war jumping off at any time. In fact such can be considered the conclusive sentiment of this piece – how if the missiles were to drop, there’s nothing you or I could do to actually defend ourselves. 

Or put differently, atomic bombs are all-destructive. Therefore politicians threatening to use them in the first place, in the mind of the vocalist, transcends the realm of reason.

And that is why this song is highlighted with the phrase “I hope the Russians love their children too”, as inspired by the aforementioned Sesame Street program. Or viewed alternatively, Sting is relying on the most-universal of human concerns, the love and protection of children, to buttress his argument. That is to say, more simply put, that if these knuckleheads actually got around to launching A-bombs and such, of course children, the most-innocent of us all, are going to perish too. 

So if nothing else, Sting (being one of these humanitarian-minded British musicians) is letting the likes of Khrushchev or Reagan know that if they are tempted to push the button, at least they should consider the lives of children before doing so.

Lyrics of Sting's "Russians"
Sting discusses "Russians"

When was “Russians” released?

With a release date of 1 June 1985, “Russians” dates back to “The Dream of the Blue Turtles”, the first solo album Sting ever put out. Prior to that he made a name for himself as a member of The Police.

“Russians” was also issued as the fourth single from the aforementioned album. 

Success of “Russians”

The track reached number one on the European Hot 100 and in Italy. It also fared quite well in West Germany, where the tune peaked at number four. And to note, this track made it onto the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles Chart. This is in addition to achieving gold certification in France.

Sting performed this song at the 1985 Grammy Awards. During this same event, “The Dream of Blue Turtles” was nominated for Album of the Year. It however, lost out to fellow-Briton Phil Collins’ 1985 outing “No Jacket Required”.

Sting comments on “Russians” and the Russian – Ukraine War

This song became globally popular in 2022 (in the wake of the 2022 Russo-Ukrainian War). About a week into the war, Sting commented about the war and the song. According to him, he never thought that the song “would be relevant again”. He went on to condemn Russian President, Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine. Also, he categorically stated his support for “the brave Ukrainians” fighting against the Russian army. He also praised the brave Russians protesting and speaking out against their government’s actions in Ukraine and called for an end to the war.

Sting talks about "Russians"

More Facts

Jean-Baptiste Mondino is a photographer whose heyday can be deemed as the 1980s as far as his direction of music videos goes. He is credited for the directing the official visual to “Russians”.

The melody of this song was influenced by a work entitled “Lieutenant Kijé” (1934). This is a notable work by early 20th century Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953).

Sting had implied that he was intent to perform this song in Russia itself, but was denied the opportunity (to perform at all) in the Soviet Union, a part of the world known to have its own issues as far as the acceptance of outside ideas go.

Nikita Khrushchev (1894-1971) led Russia circa the mid-20th century, i.e. after World War II. And even though he was long dead by the time this song was released, apparently the reason Sting namedrops him in the first verse is as a personification of Soviet hostility towards the West.

US President Ronald Reagan (1911-2004), who was alive and in power at the time, is mentioned in the third verse.

Oppenheimer’s deadly toy”, as referenced in the second verse, is actually a euphemism for the atomic bomb, whose creation is primarily credited to one J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967).


Sting’s “The Dream of the Blue Turtles”

“The Dream of the Blue Turtles” was released on the 1st June of 1985. It is the first studio album of Sting’s illustrious solo career. Prior to becoming a solo artist, Sting was a member of multiple Grammy Award-Winning British rock band, “The Police”.

The album was produced by Sting himself and Grammy Award-Winning record producer, Pete Smith.

A&M Records was the record label responsible for the album’s official release.  

“The Dream of the Blue Turtles” peaked atop charts in Australia, and the Netherlands. It reached No. 3 in the UK, No. 2 in the US. Furthermore, it achieved top-10 status around the world, including in:

  • Switzerland (6)
  • Sweden (5)
  • New Zealand (4)
  • Japan (9)
  • Germany (4)
  • France (4)
  • Canada (4)

The album has since received a 3x Platinum certification by the US’s RIAA. It also went 2x Platinum in the UK. It has been certified Gold in Hong Kong as well as Spain. Platinum certifications have been awarded it in the following countries:     

  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • New Zealand

7 Responses

  1. jomuel yumul says:

    this my favorite song in 2022 because it is a good song

    • Corgi Dad says:

      Our college radio station has been playing it, I don’t think I’ve heard it since it came out in the 80s. But it’s timely.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Sting is king

  3. Joe says:

    I remember this song when it was originally released and it has been going through my head constantly lately. A great song.

  4. Susana says:

    And here we go again ptraying that Russians love their children too…! How did we get here, 37 years after this song…?

  5. Victoria says:

    Thanks for the background story and update. I loved the song back in the good old days lol, the 80’s when at least the music was great.
    I have been following the Ukraine war, with disbelief at the carnage and where it’s heading. I feel very much for the Ukrainians and what they continue to endure. It’s all so bloody wrong. The Russians seem to have drunk the cool aid, the narrative that Ukrainians are Nazi’s, their gaslighting propaganda is sickening. They continue to send their fathers, sons and brothers to Ukraine only to return broken or worse. Where is the tidal wave of Russian mothers that should be beating down the doors of the Kremlin? They’re all terrified. So Putin’s reign continues. Where will it lead? Only time will tell. We must remain steadfast in our opposition to the Russian invasion. Putin must go. If I lost a son in Ukraine I would go there to find the answers myself somehow, someway.

  6. Alessandra says:

    Ukrainians are naz*s…are you really rooting for them?

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