Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hasn’t been entirely truthful while seeking the West’s intervention in his country’s war with Russia.
Zelenskyy’s misstatements may be understandable, but that’s no excuse for the American media.
WHAT HE’S SAYING
Facing a brutal Russian invasion justified by Kremlin lies, Ukrainian officials under Zelenskyy have promoted a number of unproven myths of their own, from the “ghost of Kyiv” to the Russian soldier fearfully texting his mother.
- Meanwhile, the president, a former actor who has emerged as the war’s hero, has repeatedly exaggerated Russian ruthlessness and Ukrainian bravery as part of his successful advocacy for greater U.S. and European support.
1. MARCH 3: Zelenskyy urgently warned that Russian forces were targeting a Ukrainian nuclear power plant and an explosion would be “the end for everyone. The end for Europe.”
Urgent video messages from President Zelensky that fighting at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant threatens a catastrophe for all of Europe. He pleads for the fighting to stop and reminds people what happened in Chernobyl. He says Russian forces know what they’re shooting at. pic.twitter.com/kgIgXkzjrX
— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) March 4, 2022
Within an hour or two, it became clear the facility had not been seriously damaged and the nuclear threat was never serious.
2. MARCH 1: Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, suggested Russian troops had bombed a Holocaust memorial and that the world was enabling a second Holocaust.
To the world: what is the point of saying «never again» for 80 years, if the world stays silent when a bomb drops on the same site of Babyn Yar? At least 5 killed. History repeating…
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) March 1, 2022
It later emerged that Babyn Yar was unscathed by the rocket attack on a TV tower in Kyiv.
3. FEB. 25: Zelenskyy announced 13 Ukrainian border guards had been killed in a defiant stand on Snake Island in the Black Sea and that the men would be posthumously awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine.
President Zelensky will honor the 13 border guards killed on Zmiinyi Island (aka Snake Island – Small island of Ukraine) after refusing to surrender to a Russian warship.
“Russian warship, go f*ck yourself”(LISTEN)😢#RussiaInvadedUkraine #russianinvasion #Ukraine #Russia #NATO pic.twitter.com/TXTV6w5zXi
— Dave Techz (@techz_dave) February 25, 2022
A few days later, Ukraine’s navy confirmed the soldiers were “alive and well” after surrendering to the Russians.
WHY IT MATTERS
Zelenskyy has not been shy about demanding the West go to war with Russia to save Ukraine.
- On a call with U.S. lawmakers Saturday, he angrily denounced NATO’s refusal to impose a no-fly zone and blamed the West for “all the people who will die from this day.”
Establishment media on the right and left have mostly been forgiving of misinformation by Zelenskyy’s government, with The New York Times calling it “a key part of Ukraine’s war plan.”
Viral stories like the Ghost of Kyiv — a Ukrainian pilot who supposedly single-handedly shot down several Russian fighter jets — are of questionable veracity. But they're a key part of Ukraine's war plan, experts say, as it tries to keep morale high. https://t.co/oNUZArrGUy
— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 3, 2022
But some populist commentators, like Chronicles Magazine editor Pedro Gonzalez, have complained that Zelenskyy and his supporters are trying to drag the United States into war with Russia, a nuclear superpower.
The people hit hardest by this protracted conflict will be Ukrainians and Americans
Zelensky is willing to allow Ukrainians to die to serve his oligarch and State Department backers, and US elites are willing to make life harder for the middle to support him
— Pedro L. Gonzalez (@emeriticus) March 7, 2022