Austrian-born actor Arnold Schwarzenegger posted an emotional message to social media on Thursday morning, recounting his personal memories of Russia and his veteran father’s longtime guilt over previous wartime actions.
He also directly reached out to the citizens of Russia, imploring them to understand what’s really happening in Ukraine.
“I am speaking to you today because there are things that are going on in the world that are being kept from you, terrible things that you should know about,” the actor and former governor of California says at the beginning of the nine-minute-long video.
“Ukraine did not start this war. Neither did nationalists or Nazis,” he said, referencing propaganda tactics currently being used by Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Those in power in the Kremlin started this war. This is not the Russian people’s war.”
He also professed his admiration and respect for the Russian people protesting the war.
“The world has seen your bravery. 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.”
Schwarzenegger’s father, Gustav, was a Nazi and served in the Second World War until he was injured during the 1942 invasion of Russia. Schwarzenegger shares in the video how he’s slowly moved past his father’s prejudices, saying a person’s nationality is not important to him.
He also reminds viewers that the war will mean not only a loss of Ukrainian life, but a loss of Russian life as well.
“To the Russian soldiers listening to this broadcast, you already know much of the truth that I’ve been speaking. You have seen it with your own eyes. I don’t want you to be broken like my father,” he said. “This is not the war to defend Russia that your grandfathers or great-grandfathers fought. This is an illegal war.”
Near the end of the video, he addresses Putin directly: “To President Putin, I say: You started this war. You are leading this war. You can stop this war.”
Followers of the former bodybuilder thanked him for his message in the comments under his video.
“Thank you for raising your voice for honesty and truth and compassion, coming from someone as respected and prominent as yourself this will hopefully bring about a rapid change,” wrote one person.
“Strong words. The end got me,” another person wrote. “Respect for every brave Russian soul who dared to go into the streets and protest against the war.”
Schwarzenegger has been vocal in his distrust of Putin in recent years.
In 2018 he called former U.S. president Donald Trump a “little wet noodle” and a “little fanboy” of Putin’s after the two held a press conference together at the Helsinki Summit.
Arnold Schwarzenegger: Donald Trump looked like a ‘little wet noodle’ with Putin
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