Arnold Schwarzenegger has appealed to Vladimir Putin to put an end to the “illegal war” between Russia and Ukraine.
In a nine-minute video posted on his social media, the actor and former Governor of California started by describing his own history with Russia, reflecting on the 1998 film ‘Red Heat’ in Moscow – which made him the first Western actor to shoot a film there.
Later, he made a strongly worded appeal to the Russian President: “You started this war. You are leading this war. You can stop this war.”
Addressing the Russian people, he said: “No one likes to hear something critical of their government, I understand that, but as a long-time friend of the Russian people, I hope that you will hear what I have to say.
“I speak with the same heartfelt concern as I did with the American people when there was an attempted insurrection on January 6 last year, when a wild crowd was storming the US capitol trying to overthrow our government.
“I know that your government has told you that this is a war to denazify Ukraine. Denazify Ukraine? This is not true.”
He continued: “Ukraine did not start this war. Neither did nationalists or Nazis. Those in power in the Kremlin started this war. This is not the Russian people’s war.
He also spoke about the humanitarian crisis that has seen thousands of deaths and millions of Ukrainian fleeing their homes since the invasion.
“When I see babies pulled out of rubble, I think that I’m watching a documentary about the horrors of the Second World War, not the news of today.”
The veteran actor also described his father’s own “pain” and experiences of war, who was a Nazi soldier in WWII.
He then addressed Russian soldiers, saying “every bullet you shoot, you shoot a brother or a sister” adding that bombs are falling on schools, homes and hospitals.
He finished with a message to Russian citizens who have protested the invasion of Ukraine. “The world has seen your bravery,” he said. “You are my new heroes.”