A year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a statement issued by President Volodymyr Zelensky on February 24 was twisted and used in the US, including by politicians opposed to US support for Kiev. “America should send its sons and daughters to war as we send our sons and daughters,” is the misinformation being spread. CNN.
Volodymyr ZelenskyPhoto: Vladimir Sindiev/NurPhoto/Shutterstock Editorial/Profimedia
A viral video falsely claims that Zelensky urged Americans to send their sons and daughters to the war in Ukraine.
Ukraine needs new young Americans to fight the ground war.
“America must send their son and daughter… to war…”
“…and they shall die.”
— James Phillips (@JamesPhillips00) February 28, 2023
The 19-second video has been viewed millions of times on Twitter, and a right-wing US politician repeated the false message at the Republican Party’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
The clip shows Zelensky speaking at a press conference as a translator translates his words into English:
- “America must send its sons and daughters to war as it sends our sons and daughters to war.
- They will have to fight because we are talking about NATO.
- And they will die. God forbid, because this is a terrible thing.
Critics of the U.S. military and funding for Ukraine were quick to pounce on the comments, saying Zelenskiy was calling for the U.S. to send its young men to defend Ukraine against Russia.
What Zelensky really wanted to say
However, Volodymyr Zelensky did not mention the war in Ukraine.
Earlier, he had said that Vladimir Putin would also decide to invade the Baltic states if Ukraine loses a war with Russia. Because they are NATO members, according to Article 5 of the alliance, other states, including the United States, must intervene in their aid. In this context, the “sons and daughters” of Americans would have ended the war. According to the treaty that governs NATO, an attack on one member is considered an attack on all. Ukraine is not a NATO member, he notes CNN.
Leaving aside the context in which Zelensky discussed this hypothetical scenario, which he used to support his case for U.S. aid in defending Ukraine, the meaning of the statements was distorted in a video widely shared on social media. Since going viral, the video has been scrutinized by CNN, Reuters and BBC journalist Shayan Sardarizadeh, among others.
How fake news is propagated
According to CNN, this misinformation continues to spread. While some politicians removed posts about the video after learning that the statements were taken out of context, other voices in American politics amplified the misinformation.
Republican Marjorie Taylor Green told the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) attended by former US President Donald Trump that the Republican Party has a duty to protect children.
Listing threats to children, he said:
- “Our sons and daughters must die in Ukraine,” Zelensky said.
- I’m looking at the camera and I’m going to tell Zelensky directly: You better keep your hands off our sons and daughters, because they’re not going to die there.”
- Later in his speech, he said: “I’m looking at a camera, and I’m going to tell Zelensky directly: Our sons and daughters better leave your hands, because they’re not going to die there.”
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