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Arnold Schwarzenegger’s passionate message to Russian soldiers: ‘This is an illegal war’

In a message posted to multiple social media channels Thursday, Arnold Schwarzenegger sent a direct message to the Russian people, urging them to do what they can to stop the war in Ukraine.

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In the video, which is more than nine minutes long, Schwarzenegger talks about his lifelong respect and admiration for the Russian people. “Ever since I was 14 years old, I’ve had nothing but affections and respect for the people of Russia. The strength and the heart of the Russian people have always inspired me. That is why I hope that you will let me tell you the truth about the war in Ukraine and what is happening there.”

The former California governor talked about his childhood role model, Russian Yuri Petrovich Vlasov, a championship weightlifter, and how his father was angry when he hung Vlasov’s picture above his bed. “My father told me to take down the picture and find a German or Austrian hero. But I did not take down the photograph, because it didn’t matter to me what flag Yuri Vlasov carried.”

Schwarzenegger took direct aim at the misinformation campaigns being used by the Russian government saying, “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.”

While speaking, Schwarzenegger also shared heartbreaking images from Ukraine showing the damage that has been done to civilian hospitals and homes by the Russian military. “I regret to tell you that thousands of Russians soldiers have been killed. They have been caught between Ukranians fighting for their homeland and the Russian leadership fighting for conquest.”

Russia began its attack on Ukraine on Feb. 24, and in the days since more than 2.8 million Ukranians have fled the country seeking asylum, USA Today reported.

Schwarzenegger had a clear message: “To the Russian soldiers listening to this broadcast: you already know much of the truth that I’ve been speaking. You’ve seen it with your own eyes. I don’t want you to be broken like my father. This is not the war to defend Russia that your grandfathers or your great-grandfathers fought. This is an illegal war. Your lives, your limbs, your futures are being sacrificed for a senseless war condemned by the entire world. Now to those in power in the Kremlin, let me just ask you: why would you sacrifice those young men for your own ambitions?”

To close his video, Schwarzenegger spoke to the people who have been publicly protesting the war from inside Russia. “The world has seen your bravery. We know that you have suffered the consequences of your courage. You have been arrested, you have been jailed, and you have been beaten. You are my new heroes. You have the strength of Yuri Petrovitch Vlasov. You have the true heart of Russia.”