California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger addressed the Russian people in a video posted to social media, as the country’s war against Ukraine continues.
“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,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said in the video, which was posted on Twitter Thursday and spans about nine minutes.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called the invasion of Ukraine a “de-Nazification,” falsely claiming that Kyiv is controlled by a cabal of American-sponsored neo-Nazis.
Mr. Schwarzenegger said Russians weren’t being told the truth about the war’s consequences for the country and said thousands of Russian soldiers have been killed. Western estimates, while highly uncertain, suggest as many as 7,000 Russian soldiers may have been killed.
“This is not the war to defend Russia that your grandfathers or your great grandfathers fought,” the actor said, addressing Russian soldiers. “This is an illegal war. Your lives, your limbs, your futures are being sacrificed for a senseless war condemned by the entire world.”
Mr. Schwarzenegger also specifically addressed Mr. Putin. “You started this war. You’re leading this war. You can stop this war,” he said.
As of Friday morning, the video had been retweeted more than 320,000 times and was liked more than 960,000 times on Twitter.
Mr. Schwarzenegger also posted the video to the social media and chat app Telegram. While Russia has restricted access to social-media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, Russians are turning to Telegram, which has been a popular way to disseminate Russian-language news.
Mr. Schwarzenegger, who is from Austria, emigrated to the U.S. in 1968, according to his website. As a bodybuilder, he was the youngest person to win the title of Mr. Universe, his website said.
The actor, known for the “Terminator” movies, also had a career in politics. He served as California’s governor from 2003 to 2011.
In his Twitter video, Mr. Schwarzenegger called the Russians who have protested the war his “new heroes” and pleaded with Russian citizens and soldiers to spread the truth about the conflict.
“I urge the Russian people and the Russian soldiers in Ukraine to understand the propaganda and the disinformation that you are being told,” he said. “I ask you to help me spread the truth.”