You’re reading Reaction. To get Iain Martin’s weekly newsletter, columnists including Tim Marshall, Maggie Pagano and Adam Boulton, full access to the site and invitations to member-exclusive events, become a member HERE.
Boris Johnson has issued a direct appeal to the Russian people to reject Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. But The Hound cannot help but notice similarities between the Prime Minister’s address and one given last month by the Terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Like the former governor of California’s video, which has over 1.3 million likes on Twitter, Johnson looks directly into the camera with Russian subtitles at the bottom. And Johnson appears to copy several techniques used by the Austrian-born A-lister.
Schwarzenegger starts in a friendly manner by thanking “my dear Russian friends” for sharing their time with him. Johnson takes a similar approach, and opens by speaking in Russian: “You deserve the truth.”
Next, Schwarzenegger humanises Russians by recognising their good intentions and separating them from the government. “The strength and the heart of the Russian people have always inspired me,” he says. Johnson mirrors this sentiment when he condemns war crimes in Bucha that “betray the trust of every Russian mother who proudly waves goodbye to her son as he heads off to join the military”.
Sign up for our FREE Reaction Weekend Email
Read the week's best-read articles on politics, business and geopolitics
Receive offers and exclusive invites
Plus uplifting cultural commentary
The two also cast Russia’s actions in simple and direct terms. In fact, the only time Schwarzenegger mentions Putin is when he states: “You started the war. You are leading this war. You can stop this war.” Meanwhile, Johnson does not even say Putin’s name. “Your president knows that if you could see what was happening, you would not support this war,” he says.
Finally, Johnson – like Schwarzenegger – refers back to his opening statement with his concluding remarks. “Your President stands accused of committing war crimes,” he says. “But I cannot believe he’s acting in your name”.
Johnson may be popular in Ukraine, but you’d be forgiven for thinking this latest bit of showmanship is a shameless attempt to cash in on the success of Schwarzenegger’s perfectly poised address.