Arnold Schwarzenegger asks Putin: ‘Stop this war’

Renowned actor Arnold Schwarzenegger posted a video on social media Thursday telling Russians they are being lied to about the war in Ukraine and accusing President Vladimir Putin of sacrificing the lives of Russian soldiers to fulfill his own ambitions.

Schwarzenegger is extremely popular in Russia, and apparently with Putin as well. The Russian president’s Twitter account follows only 22 accounts, and one of them is the actor’s.

In the nine-minute video, Schwarzenegger notes that Russian soldiers were told they would fight Nazis in Ukraine, or protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine, or carry out military exercises and be greeted as heroes. He said many of those soldiers now know those claims were false.

“This is an illegal war,” said Schwarzenegger, who was at a desk and looking directly into the camera. “Their lives, their limbs and their futures are being sacrificed in a senseless war condemned by the entire world.”

Schwarzenegger posted the emotional video on Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. While some of those platforms are blocked in Russia, he also posted it on the messaging app Telegram, which is not, and where he received more than half a million views. The video is subtitled in Russian.

The former California governor spoke of painful memories of how his own father was lied to while fighting in Adolf Hitler’s forces during World War II, and how he returned to Austria physically and mentally shattered after being wounded in Leningrad.

He called on Russians to make their compatriots aware of “the human catastrophe that is taking place in Ukraine.” The video shows destroyed buildings in that country and people trying to protect themselves from Russian bombing.

He later addressed Putin directly: “You started this war. You are leading this war. You can stop this war.”

Schwarzenegger described his longstanding ties to Russia, having traveled there as a bodybuilder and action movie hero. In 2010, as governor of California, he led a delegation of Silicon Valley business leaders and investors on a trip to Moscow.

He referred to all the Russians who have taken to the streets to protest the invasion of Ukraine, and who have been arrested and repressed, as “my new heroes”.

An adviser to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry working to disseminate information about the course of the war called on Ukrainians to share the video with friends and relatives in Russia.

“Putin and his propagandists call us Ukrainians fascists and Nazis,” said the adviser, Anton Gerashchenko, on Telegram. “But his propaganda is shattered when super famous people from all over the world join their voices to say: ‘No to war!’”

Gerashchenko has more than 385,000 subscribers on his Telegram channel. He included a link that leads to a Russian-dubbed version of Schwarzenegger’s video that he posted on his YouTube channel.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger asks Putin: ‘Stop this war’

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