By: Rajini KG
March 3 2023
A video clip from Zelenskyy's press conference on the anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion was misquoted on social media.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, many related videos and images have been circulating on social media. A video clip of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has recently been shared on Twitter with the caption, "Do Americans realize what the Biden administration is doing? In the end Ukraine needs Americans to help fight on the ground war. Zelenskyy: 'the U.S. will have to send their son's and daughter's to war, and they will be dying.'" In the video, as Zelenskyy speaks, a woman can be heard live translating his speech, saying, "The U.S. will have to send their sons and daughters exactly the same way as we are sending our sons and daughters to war, and they will have to fight because its a nature that we are talking about and they will be dying. God forbid because it's a horrible thing." The tweet has attracted 8,459 likes and 744,400 views.
However, the claim is false. A full-length video of Zelenskyy's press conference on February 24, 2023, shows that his statement on speculation of Russia attacking NATO countries and its possible effects has been taken out of context.
The viral video bears the logo of U.K. news outlet The Telegraph in the top right of the frame. The Telegraph posted the video, a broadcast of Zelenskyy's press conference on February 24, 2023, on its YouTube channel. While the original feed is in Ukrainian, news channels released the video of his speech with a voiceover of an English translation. The Office of the President of Ukraine uploaded the full video of the press conference to its Facebook page on February 25, 2023. The press conference was also live-streamed on DW News' YouTube channel on February 24, 2023, titled "Live: Speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy | DW News."
At 1:33.42 in the video, a journalist from ABC News discusses American opinion surveys that indicate an increasing proportion of Americans believe their government has given too much support to Ukraine. The reporter then requests a message from Zelenskyy for worried Americans. In response, at 1:35:56 seconds, Zelenskyy says (translated), "Who wants the Third World War? Would anyone risk, would anyone be willing to accept that risk? The U.S. is never going to give up on the NATO member states. If it happens so that Ukraine — due to various opinions and weakening and depleting of assistance — loses, Russia is going to enter Baltic states, NATO member states, and then the U.S. will have to send their sons and daughters, exactly the same way as we are sending our sons and daughters to war, and they will have to fight because it's NATO that we're talking about and they will be dying. God forbid, because it's a horrible thing. I wish peace and Ukrainian support to the United States (sic)."
Both Reuters and The Telegraph uploaded the press conference on their YouTube channels on February 24, 2023. At 1:40:05 seconds in the Reuters video and at 1:39:36 seconds in The Telegraph video, Zelenskyy can be heard remarking on what will happen if Russia attacks NATO member states.
A clip from Zelenskyy's two-hour press conference with foreign media on the scale of the Russian invasion has been quoted out of context. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.