Arnold Schwarzenegger has called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop his country’s war against Ukraine.
The veteran actor and former politician posted a powerful nine-minute video today (March 17) in which he told the Russian people to be aware of the misinformation being spread by the Kremlin that the conflict is to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.
He also took the opportunity to direct his words at Putin, saying that the president is responsible for the invasion and “can stop this war”.
Schwarzenegger opened his message by reflecting on meeting Russian champion heavyweight lifter Yuri Petrovich Vlasov when he was a boy. Vlasov’s 1960 achievement in becoming the first person to clean and jerk 200kg above his head inspired Schwarzenegger to purse bodybuilding and weightlifting in his career, with Vlasov remaining his hero.
The actor went on to praise “the strength and the heart” of the Russian people. He reflected on his times visiting the country, including in the ’80s when he became the first Western film star to shoot a movie in Moscow’s Red Square (for Red Heat).
I love the Russian people. That is why I have to tell you the truth. Please watch and share. pic.twitter.com/6gyVRhgpFV
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) March 17, 2022
He used this context to prove that he wasn’t ignorant of or prejudiced against Russia, but that he knows that many Russians are unaware about the truth of the war and are being fed dangerous propaganda to justify the situation.
Russian media, for instance, is barred from using the words “invasion” and “assault” in reports. The term “special military operation” is being used to cover up the war it’s waged.
Schwarzenegger also spoke about his father Gustav, who was a Nazi Brownshirt in WWII.
Gustav later regretted serving the Nazis and was a “broken” man by the time the war ended, Arnold said. “He was all pumped up on the lies of his government,” the actor added, “and when he left Leningrad he was broken, physically and mentally.”
“I don’t want you to be broken like my father,” Arnold added.
To Russian soldiers serving in Ukraine, Schwarzenegger said: “You are being sacrificed for a senseless war…. let your fellow Russians know the human catastrophe that is happening in Ukraine.
“And to President Putin I say: you started this war. You are leading this war. You can stop this war.”
Schwarzenegger rounded off his video with a message to the people in Russia who are protesting the war. “The world has seen your bravery,” he said. “We know that you have suffered the consequences of your courage. You have been arrested. You have been jailed. And you have been beaten. You are my new heroes.
“You have the strength of Yuri Petrovich Vlasov. You have the true heart of Russia.”
His comments follow on from a number of other entertainment figures and industry bodies who have shown support for Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s invasion, which was launched on February 24.
Several European film festivals, for instance, are spotlighting Ukrainian movies in response to Russia’s invasion of the country. The moves follow festivals in Stockholm and Glasgow boycotting Russian state-funded films outright, although many festivals are banning official delegations and not necessarily Russian films and directors.
Meanwhile, a first-print VHS copy of the original The Terminator movie – the film that Schwarzenegger is most famed for – has been auctioned off for $32,500 (£23,913).