Arnold Schwarzenegger has made an impassioned plea to Russian troops in Ukraine, telling them he does not want to see them be “broken” like his father who fought for the Nazis in the Second World War.
In a video message, the 74-year-old spoke of his “affections and respect” for the Russian people ever since meeting his hero bodybuilder Yuri Petrovich Vlasov when he was 14 years old.
But he said there are “moments like this that are so wrong and then we have to speak up”.
Addressing Russian troops who have invaded Ukraine, he warned them that “every bullet you shoot, you shoot a brother or sister”.
And he urged them to learn from the plight of his Austrian father, who was sent to Russia while fighting for the Nazis during the Second World War.
He said: “When my father arrived in Leningrad, he was all pumped up on the lies of his government.
“When he left Leningrad he was broken physically and mentally. He lived the rest of his life in pain. I don’t want you to be broken like my father.
“This is not the war to defend Russia that your grandfathers or great-grandfathers fought. This is an illegal war.”
He added: “Denazify Ukraine? This is not true.
“Ukraine is a country with a Jewish president. A Jewish president, I might add, whose father’s three brothers were all murdered by the Nazis.
“You see Ukraine did not start this war, neither did nationalists or Nazis.
“Those in power in the Kremlin started this war.”
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He appealed to citizens of Russia and soldiers alike to listen to his message, adding: “Your lives, your limbs are being sacrificed for a senseless war condemned by the entire world.”
Schwarzenegger said he was speaking with the “same heartfelt concern” that he spoke to the American people with when there was an attempted insurrection on 6 January last year during the storming of the US Capitol.
Concluding his message, Schwarzenegger said the Russians protesting against the conflict who have been “beaten and jailed” are his “new heroes” and “have the true heart of Russia”.