A viral video of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky falsely suggests that he asked Americans to send their sons and daughters to fight in the war in Ukraine.
The 19-second out-of-context video has been viewed millions of times on Twitter, and a right-wing US politician repeated the debunked narrative this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), an annual Republican rally.
The clip shows Zelensky speaking at a press conference last week as an interpreter translates his words into English: “The United States will have to send their sons and daughters, exactly the same way we send their sons and daughters at war. And they will have to fight, because this is NATO we are talking about. And they will die, God forbid, because this is a horrible thing,” the Ukrainian leader said.
Critics of US military and financial support for Ukraine jumped on the remarks, saying Zelensky demanded the US send its youth to defend Ukraine against the ongoing Russian invasion.
Here is the key context: Zelensky was not saying that Americans will have to fight or die in Ukraine. Rather, he predicted that if Ukraine lost the war against Russia, Moscow would proceed with the entry of NATO member countries into the Baltics (a region made up of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) , which the United States will have to send troops to defend.
Under the treaty that governs NATO, an attack on one member is considered an attack on all. Ukraine is not a member of NATO.
Leaving aside the context in which Zelensky was discussing this hypothetical situation, which he used to buttress his argument for continued US aid in defense of Ukraine, the posts containing the shortened clip distorted its meaning. .
Since going viral it has been verified by CNN, Reuters and a BBC reporter Shayan Sardarizadehamong others.
However, the claims are still circulating: While some elected officials deleted posts about the video after learning it had been taken out of context, other voices in American politics amplified the lies.
At CPAC on Friday, GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said the Republican Party has a duty to protect children. Listing alleged threats against children, she referenced “Zelensky saying he wants our sons and daughters to go and die in Ukraine.”
Later in her speech, she said, “I’m going to look at a camera and say directly to Zelensky: you better not touch our sons and daughters, because they’re not dying there.”
Read CNN’s full fact check here.