Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show Zelenskyy Begging Western Leaders To Spend Their Money On Ukraine

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show Zelenskyy Begging Western Leaders To Spend Their Money On Ukraine Domestic Plea

Does a video show Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy begging Western leaders to spend their money on Ukraine? No, that's not true: In the Fox News Channel interview, Zelenskyy was directing his comments toward domestic critics, not anyone in the West. Additionally, he did not call for Western leaders to send all their funds to Ukraine, contrary to the assertion in a social media post.

The claim appeared in a post and video (archived here) published by johnny maga on X (formerly Twitter) on December 12, 2023. The post's caption said:

Zelensky just went on Fox and begged western leaders to send ALL their money to Ukraine

'Don't build roads. Spend all your money on weapons, drones, Society and pensions... we have only one enemy: Putin.'

This is what the post looked like on X at the time of writing:


(Source: X screenshot taken on Wed Dec 20 16:28:42 2023 UTC)

Out of context

Zelenskyy appeared on the Fox News Channel for an interview with political anchor Bret Baier on December 12, 2023. The comments of the Ukrainian leader featured in the 76-second clip on X come from a much longer interview and omit important context. Baier's question to Zelenskyy is about his domestic critics, which was edited from the video above, and not about aid from Western nations. He does not beg "western leaders to send ALL their money to Ukraine."

The transcript of Baier's full question and Zelenskyy's complete response to it appear below. The clip featured in the X post begins at the 4:42 mark. The sections highlighted in red below were featured in the post on X, although they were paraphrased somewhat:

Baier: Last thing, Mr. President: There are critics who say that you've tried to consolidate power. Headlines that the orthodox leader in Kyiv under house arrest, that you consolidated Ukraine's TV outlets, that you ruled out holding elections next spring, calling for unity. But then the mayor of Kyiv says that you're turning it into an authoritarian state. How do you deal with that criticism? What do you say to critics who are saying that?

Zelenskyy: I say [to] such a person from the government or mayors: Think about the war, think about how to defend our people. Don't travel through the world each day; travel to the front line. Ask people, ask soldiers what they need. Do this, not build roads for today. Don't do it. Spend all your money to the weapon, to the drones, to the society, to the pensions, and et cetera. And don't cry. Because you are leaders, and that's it. That's why we are and that's why we stay because mostly people are not crying. People stay and fight against Putin. And we don't have any enemies in our country. We can't have time for this, and we don't have it. We have only one enemy, this is Putin, and that's it.

The full interview is embedded below:

Read more

Additional Lead Stories fact checks of claims involving President Zelenskyy can be read here.

Other Lead Stories fact checks of claims related to the war in Ukraine can be found here.

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  Ed Payne

Ed Payne is a staff writer at Lead Stories. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist as part of CNN’s coverage of 9/11. Ed worked at CNN for nearly 24 years with the CNN Radio Network and CNN Digital. Most recently, he was a Digital Senior Producer for Gray Television’s Digital Content Center, the company’s digital news hub for 100+ TV stations. Ed also worked as a writer and editor for WebMD. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Ed is the author of two children’s book series: “The Daily Rounds of a Hound” and “Vail’s Tales.” 

Read more about or contact Ed Payne

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