False: Joe Biden said that sending tanks to Ukraine would lead to World War III.

By: Ankita Kulkarni
February 7 2023

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False: Joe Biden said that sending tanks to Ukraine would lead to World War III.


The Verdict False

Joe Biden's comment about sending tanks to Ukraine for defence has been taken out of context.

Claim ID 2d9c4833


On January 25, 2023, American President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. would send 31 M1 Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine to support its fight against Russia. Following the announcement, various claims that Biden announced "World War III" began doing the rounds on social media. The claim originated in a tweet that used two out-of-context statements by Biden to imply that his decision to send tanks to Ukraine is an admission that World War III has begun. The tweet also got a response from Twitter CEO Elon Musk, who replied, "The war is escalating quickly."

Users across social media picked up this narrative. A video shared on Instagram on January 27 makes a similar claim. In the video, Biden says that if the U.S. sends in offensive equipment, planes, tanks and trains, with American pilots and American crews, this will amount to "World War III." The video then has a jump cut, and Biden continues, "Today, I am announcing that the United States will be sending 31 Abram Tanks to Ukraine." The text "WW3" has been overlaid on this video. The video was shared with the caption, "WW3 starts with the shipment of offensive equipment like tanks to Ukraine. Welcome to WW3!"

However, the video and the caption lack context and have been circulated with incorrect claims.

In Fact

Research showed us that the comment highlighted in the viral posts omits significant phrases from the remarks made by Biden on March 11, 2022. We found a more extended version of his speech uploaded on C-Span. At the 18.34-minute mark in the video, Biden, while addressing the House Democratic Caucus Issues Conference, said that the U.S. has sent 12,000 American forces along the borders with Russia to defend NATO territory. "Granted, if we respond, it is World War III, but we have a sacred obligation on NATO territory - a sacred obligation - Article 5. And we will not - although we will not fight the Third World War in Ukraine…" he said.

He adds later, "But, look, the idea — the idea that we're going to send in offensive equipment and have planes and tanks and trains going in with American pilots and American crews, just understand — and don't kid yourself, no matter what you all say — that's called World War III."

The transcription of his speech can also be found on the White House website, dating back to March 11, 2022. It is important to note that Biden clearly says that "going in with American pilots and American crews," along with tanks and other military vehicles, would call for World War III, not just by sending battle tanks to help Ukraine. Subsequently, Biden ruled out sending American troops to fight Russian forces in Ukraine.

The Verdict

The viral post omits words from Biden's speech in March 2022 and shares them without proper context. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before