LOS ANGELES UNITED STATES.- Austrian-American actor and politician arnold schwarzenegger urged the Russian president on Thursday Vladimir Putin to stop the “meaningless” war in Ukraine, in a video in which he denounced the Kremlin’s “propaganda” and called Russians protesting the conflict “heroes.”
“Ukraine did not start this war,” the “Terminator” star and former California governor said in an emotional message to the people of Russia and Russian troops, posted on his Twitter account, where he has 4.9 million followers.
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“I am speaking to you today because things are happening in the world that are hidden from you, terrible things that you should know about,” he said in the nine-minute video, with Russian and English subtitles.
The Austrian-born former bodybuilding champion, whose film “Red Heat” (1988) was the first American film shot in Moscow’s Red Square, spoke of his long-standing affection for the Russian people and his excitement upon meeting to his idol, the Russian weightlifter Yuri Vlasov, when he was 14 years old.
“The strength and heart of the Russian people have always inspired me,” he said. “That is why I hope you will let me tell you the truth about the war in Ukraine.”
“I know that your government has told you that this is a war to ‘denazify’ Ukraine,” he said.
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“That’s not true. Those in power in the Kremlin started this war. This is not the war of the Russian people,” he assured.
Schwarzenegger said that “the world has turned against Russia because of their actions in Ukraine: entire city blocks have been flattened by Russian artillery and bombs, including a children’s hospital and a maternity hospital.”
“Because of its brutality, Russia is now isolated from the society of nations,” he noted.
In a heartfelt appeal to Russian troops, Schwarzenegger recalled the injuries his father sustained while fighting with the Nazis in Russia during World War II.
“He was physically and mentally shattered and lived the rest of his life in pain,” he said. “To the Russian troops listening to this message … I don’t want them to be broken like my father.”
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“This is not the war to defend Russia that your grandparents or great-grandparents fought,” he said. “This is an illegal war. Their lives, the limbs of their bodies, their futures have been sacrificed in a senseless war condemned by the entire world.”
And addressing Putin directly, Schwarzenegger said: “You started this war. You are leading this war. You can stop this war.”
He closed the message by praising Russians who risk arrest for protesting against the war. “The world has seen your bravery,” he told them. “You are my new heroes.”
Putin has been called a “war criminal” for his “special military operation” in Ukraine, launched on February 24. Since then, the UN has documented more than 500 civilian deaths and more than 1,000 civilian injuries, as well as more than three million refugees.
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