Update June 28, 2022: A previous version of this story incorrectly said a meme posted online appeared to show Arnold Schwarzenegger wearing a shirt with an anti-Vladimir Putin shirt design. The design on the shirt showed former Ukrainian nationalist leader Stepan Bandera. This story has been updated.
On June 15, @Ukrainolution, a Twitter account with more than 27,000 followers that tweets content about the war in Ukraine, posted a photo claiming to show Arnold Schwarzenegger wearing a pro-Ukraine t-shirt.
The shirt has an outline of Crimea with the text “I’ll be back,” Schwarzenegger’s famous line from “The Terminator” film franchise. Crimea was annexed into Russia in 2014.
The photo was also shared on June 17 by Paul Massaro, the senior policy advisor for counter-kleptocracy at the Helsinki Commission, a government agency that monitors human rights and international cooperation in 57 countries.
Is the photo of Arnold Schwarzenegger wearing a pro-Ukraine Crimea shirt real?
No, the photo of Arnold Schwarzenegger wearing a pro-Ukraine shirt isn’t real. The photo was edited using a paparazzi photo taken in 2012.
WHAT WE FOUND
Using Yandex, a reverse image search tool, VERIFY traced the original photo back to when Arnold Schwarzenegger was pictured having lunch with fellow action star Sylvester Stallone in 2012.
The photos were posted on Zimbio, an entertainment website, and there are several of Schwarzenegger with Stallone.
Comparing the doctored image to the 2012 image, you can see the man standing behind Schwarzenegger in the background is the same. Schwarzenegger’s facial expression and posture are the same in the doctored and original images; the only difference is the design of the t-shirt.
This particular meme featuring Schwarzenegger has been circulating online for years. TinEye, another reverse image search tool, shows results from 2015. This example shows another design on the t-shirt, this time it was former Ukrainian nationalist leader Stepan Bandera.
Schwarzenegger didn’t return VERIFY’s request for comment, but has publicly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Putin launched the invasion in February 2022.
In a roughly 9-minute video posted to his social media channels in March, Schwarzenegger spoke directly to the Russian people and soldiers deployed in Ukraine.
“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. No. As a matter of fact let me tell you what you should know is that 141 nations in the [United Nations] voted that Russia was the aggressor and called for it to remove its troops immediately … See the world has turned against Russia because of its actions in Ukraine,” he says.
He goes on to call the war in Ukraine a “humanitarian crisis” because of Russia’s brutality. He says the Russian people and soldiers haven’t been told the truth and have been fed lies and false information.
As of June 20, the United Nations reported 4,569 civilians had been killed in Ukraine and more than 5,600 injured.