Arnold Schwarzenegger carried the weight of the world Thursday by making a video he hopes will reach the people of Russia.
“I’m sending this message to various different channels to reach my dear Russian friends and the Russian soldiers serving in Ukraine,” he began. “There are things going on in the world that have been kept from you — terrible things you should know about.”
Before talking about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, the action star recalled being inspired by weight-lifter Yuri Petrovich Vlasov as a child. Schwarzenegger said his father, who fought on the side of the Nazis in World War II, told him to find a German role model rather than Vlasov, who was Russian.
“He didn’t like Russians,” the “Red Heat” star said.
When he was 14, Schwarzenegger, who is Austrian American, got to meet his idol. He recalled Vlasov being “kind” and said he will never forget that day. He began sleeping with a photo of Vlasov above his bed and lifting weights himself. Even now, Schwarzenegger says he drinks his coffee from a mug Vlasov gave him later in life when they met again in Russia.
“I’ve had nothing but affections and respect for the people of Russia,” he said.
And that’s why, according to the 74-year-old actor, he hopes Russians who hear his message believe him when he says Putin’s assault on Ukraine is unjust. He compared that aggression to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol where Donald Trump supporters, who’d been lied to by their former president, tried to stop the certification of the 2020 election.
Schwarzenegger first took issue with Putin’s claim that his army’s goal was to “denazify” Ukraine, whose president is Jewish.
“Denazify Ukraine?” he scoffed. “This is not true.”
Schwarzenegger emphasized that it was Putin, not Ukraine, who started the war.
“This is not the Russian people’s war,” he added.
The former California Republican governor then rolled video showing civilian targets that have been devastated by Russian artillery. Schwarzenegger also told viewers that it wasn’t just Ukrainians being killed in Eastern Europe.
“I regret to tell you that thousands of Russian soldiers have been killed,” he said.
He also told Russians that their country has been isolated from the rest of the world because of its leaders’ actions.
“So I urge the Russian people and the Russian soldiers in Ukraine to understand the propaganda and disinformation you’re being told,” Schwarzenegger said. “I ask you to help me spread the truth.”
He signed off asking Putin to end the war and told protesters in Russia that they were his new heroes, much the way strongman Vlasov had been.
—Brian Niemietz New York Daily News