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Award-winning Danish director Lars von Trier has been attacked in the press and on social media after a post he made asserting that “Russian lives matter also!” went viral on Wednesday.

The ‘Dancer in the Dark’ and ‘Antichrist’ filmmaker took to Instagram to react to a meeting between Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky and Danish Prime Minister Mette Fredriksen, both of whom posed for photographs inside an F-16 jet fighter.

“Like someone head over heels in love, [they] posed in the cockpit of one of the scariest killing machines of our time, grinning from ear to ear,” von Trier wrote, responding to the news that Denmark would be donating F-16s to Ukraine after Zelensky had demanded them for months.

Von Trier’s post was quickly slammed by the Ukrainian government. National Security and Defense Council head Aleksey Danilov posted a screenshot of the text to X (formerly Twitter), declaring that “behind every living Russian terrorist, there is a dead Ukrainian,” while insisting that Ukraine exists “in a cruel reality in which Russians are murderers.”

“The choice between the executioner and the victim becomes a tragedy when the artist chooses the side of the executioner,” Danilov wrote. He went on to advise the renowned filmmaker to imagine that “it is a Russian missile that is flying into his city every day,” rather than engage in “hypocritical ‘humanism.’” 

Von Trier hit back with a reminder that he was “just stating the obvious: that all lives in this world matter!” 

“A forgotten phrase it seems, from a time when pacifism was a virtue,” the director added.

The backlash against the Danish director echoes the attacks on American celebrities who made the faux pas of declaring that “all lives matter” at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, many of whom were denounced as racists for refusing to single out one group above others.

Russia has repeatedly denied Kiev’s claim that its troops were targeting civilians, accusing the Ukrainian military of indiscriminately using Western-supplied weapons, including cluster munitions, against civilians in Donbass and elsewhere in Russia. 

Denmark and the Netherlands have committed to deliver F-16s to Ukraine by January after receiving permission from the US. Zelensky has been touring other European countries, including Sweden, to attempt to secure more jets in the hope of salvaging the ongoing offensive, which has so far failed to win significant ground for Ukraine.  According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, Kiev has lost upwards of 43,000 troops since the offensive began in early June.

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