Zelenskyy didn’t say US troops needed to fight in Ukraine
CLAIM: A video clip shows Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying that Americans will have to send their “sons and daughters” to the war in Ukraine.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: Missing context. Zelenskyy was explaining that if Russia attacked NATO member states, which are U.S. allies, the U.S would likely send troops to protect those countries. He was not suggesting Americans would have to fight in Ukraine.
THE FACTS: The clip, cut from a two-hour livestreamed news conference on the somber one-year anniversary of Russia’s war on Ukraine, shows Zelenskyy speaking with the audio dubbed by a translator.
“The U.S. will have to send their sons and daughters exactly the same way as we are sending their sons and daughters to war,” he says. “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.”
Social media users posted the clip this week with claims Zelenskyy was calling for Americans to fight in Ukraine.
“Zelensky’ is a dangerous sociopath who wants your children to fight his war,” reads a tweet shared more than 4,000 times.
But the full context of the clip reveals that the Ukrainian president was talking about a hypothetical situation in which Russia invades NATO member countries, not calling for Americans to fight in his country.
Video of the conference shows that Zelenskyy was answering a question about his message to Americans who believe the U.S. is giving too much support to Ukraine. He started by thanking Americans for their ongoing support, then addressed what might happen if Ukraine loses the war.
“The U.S. is never going to give up on the NATO member states,” Zelenskyy says in the video. “If it happens so that Ukraine, due to various opinions and weakening, 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 their 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.”
While the U.S. has sent weapons and other forms of aid to Ukraine, the Pentagon has said there are no American forces in the country besides a small number of troops assigned to the U.S. embassy.
This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.