Appeal to soldiers: “I don’t want you to have a broken life like my father.”
Los Angeles/Kyiv/Moscow. Hollywood star Arnold Schwarzenegger addressed the Russian people in a video message and called on them to spread the truth about the war of aggression in Russia. “I ask you to help me spread the truth. Let your fellow Russian citizens know about the humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine,” Schwarzenegger said in the almost 10-minute clip, which was shared on social media on Thursday.
“I have great respect for the Russian people, so I hope you will let me tell the truth about the war in Ukraine and what is happening there,” Schwarzenegger said. With several personal references, the former California governor sought sympathy and authenticity. So he told how the Russian world champion in weightlifting, Yuri Vlasov, had inspired him in bodybuilding. Vlasov was the first man to lift 200 kilograms. At a performance in Vienna he met him and shook his hand. “I stood in front of the strongest man in the world and couldn’t believe it,” said the former “Mister Universe”. At the end of the 1980s he met Vlasov again in Moscow when he was shooting the film “Red Heat”. Vlasov gave him a blue coffee cup at the meeting, “and I still drink from it every morning”.
“When he left Leningrad he was broken”
Schwarzenegger reported that as a young man he trained in front of a photograph of Vlasov and did not remove it when his father asked him to do so. “He didn’t like the Russians because of his experiences in World War II,” Schwarzenegger said of his father, who fought for the German Wehrmacht near Leningrad. “When my father came to Leningrad, he was also incited by the lies of his government. When he left Leningrad, he was broken, physically and mentally.” He had suffered from pain all his life, also “from the guilt he felt”.
“To the Russian soldiers watching this show: You already know a lot of the truth I spoke about. You saw it with your own eyes. I don’t want you to have a broken life like my father did,” he said Schwarzenegger. “This is not a war in defense of Russia that your grandfathers and great-grandfathers fought. This is an illegal war. Your life, your limbs, your future are being sacrificed in a senseless war condemned by the whole world.”
Defense reflex in Russia
Schwarzenegger showed understanding for the defensive reflex in Russia when it comes to foreign criticism. “Nobody likes to hear something critical about their government.” But he is just as concerned today as he was after the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021, when he also publicly took a stand against it. “There are moments that are so wrong that we have to speak up,” emphasized Schwarzenegger, who in the video, among other things, cleared up the propaganda lies that the aggression was about an operation to “denazify” Ukraine and that it war started. “The people in power in the Kremlin started this war.” Accompanied by images of the destruction of civilian targets in Ukraine, Schwarzenegger emphasized that eleven million Russians have family ties to the neighboring country. “With every shot you fire, you’re shooting at a brother or sister,” he said to the Russian soldiers.
Schwarzenegger also paid tribute to those Russians who are protesting against the war. The world saw their “bravery”. “You are my new heroes. You have the strength of Yuri Vlasov, you have the true Russian heart,” said the Hollywood star, who finally addressed Kremlin boss Vladimir Putin directly. To him he said: “You started this war, you are fighting this war. You can end this war.”