"And I know this because some of them have told me this."
One firebrand ex-astronaut is again assailing Russia amid the country's invasion of neighboring Ukraine — and this time, he's targeted the cosmonauts.
In a new interview with Newsweek, former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly went off, berating Russia for the way he says its government has "brainwashed" the cosmonauts who used to be his colleagues aboard the International Space Station.
Kelly said that in conversation with cosmonaut colleagues about the Ukraine invasion, he was surprised to learn that they supported Russia's military incursion.
"What kind of surprises me is that, at least from an appearance perspective, most of [the cosmonauts he'd spoken to] are really far down the rabbit hole, you know, believing that this was a necessary action to prevent Nazis and NATO from destroying Russia," Kelly told the magazine, referencing a Russian talking point which overstates the presence of neo-Nazis in the Ukrainian military and resistance. "And I know this because some of them have told me this."
"So that part surprised me. How easily some of them were misled and brainwashed, I guess you could say, and don't believe what is really happening," he continued. "I mean, I've had discussions with them about the atrocities that are committed, and they believe it's all fake, that it's Ukrainians committing them and blaming them on the Russians, or it's just made up."
Not All Russians
Kelly admitted in March that NASA asked him to back off of criticizing Russia amid the country's invasion of Ukraine, in hopes of maintaining the tenuous space cooperation between the US and Roscosmos, but that apparently hasn't stopped him.
Having lived and worked side-by-side with cosmonauts for a full year aboard the ISS, though, Kelly insisted in the interview that he didn't hate all Russians.
"Some of the cosmonauts are like, 'this is all a f***ing travesty and ridiculous and I wish I could leave this country,'" he told Newsweek. "So I don't think people need to put all Russians in the same basket, particularly outside of Russia."
READ MORE: Russian Cosmonauts Are Being 'Brainwashed': Ex-NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly [Newsweek]
More on Kelly's activism: Celebrity NASA Astronaut Sells NFTs to Raise Money for Ukraine