Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made an impassioned appeal to the Russian people in a video posted on social media, asking them to resist their country’s disinformation as the devastating invasion of Ukraine continues.
Schwarzenegger said he was “sending this message through various different channels” for Russian citizens and soldiers, and hoped his message about the atrocities committed by its government and military would break through. The video posted on Twitter has more than 15 million views.
“Ukraine did not start this war. Neither did nationalists or Nazis,” he said. “Those in power in the Kremlin started this war.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin and government officials have made false accusations toward Ukraine as their motivations for the invasion, baselessly saying the country must “deNazify.”
“There are things that are going on in the world that are being kept from you, terrible things that you should know about,” Schwarzenegger said.
“I know the Russian people are not aware such things are happening, so I urge the Russian people and the Russian soldiers in Ukraine to understand the propaganda and the disinformation that you are being told. I ask you to help me spread the truth.”
He heavily criticized the Russian government for the invasion, saying they “lied not only to its citizens but to its soldiers” for the reasons behind the war.
Schwarzenegger also spoke fondly of his experiences visiting Russia during his movie career and said his childhood hero was Russian heavyweight weightlifter and Olympic gold medalist Yuri Vlasov. Schwarzenegger said he was 14 years old when he met Vlasov for the first time. His idol’s kindness inspired a young Schwarzenegger to keep a photo of him above his bed despite the objections of his father, an Austrian who fought for Nazi Germany during WWII.
Schwarzenegger included a message for Russians protesting publicly against the war at great risk to personal liberty.
“The world has seen your bravery. We know that you have suffered the consequences of your courage,” he said.
“You are my new heroes. You have the strength of Yuri Petrovich Vlasov. You have the true heart of Russia.”