Video misrepresents US senator's comments on Russia-Ukraine war

  • This article is more than one year old.
  • Published on June 5, 2023 at 18:32
  • Updated on June 7, 2023 at 16:02
  • 2 min read
  • By Nahiara S. ALONSO, AFP USA
  • Translation and adaptation Natalie WADE
In a video shared online, Senator Lindsey Graham appears to tell Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky "the Russians are dying" and that is "the best money" the US has ever spent. But the clip is edited; the full footage shows Graham did not make the statements consecutively.

Ian Miles Cheong, a far-right blogger, tweeted a video May 27, 2023 of a meeting between Zelensky and Graham, a Republican from the US state of South Carolina. In it, the senator says: "And the Russians are dying."

Immediately afterward, the 11-second clip cuts to a different angle. Graham then says: "It's the best money we've ever spent."

Screenshot of a tweet taken June 2, 2023

The video also spread on Facebook and TikTok, including in Spanish.

Graham met with Zelensky on May 26 in Kyiv to discuss the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The United States has given Ukraine billions of dollars in aid since the war began.

But the clip shared online is edited to stitch together two different parts of the conversation.

The Ukrainian government released the altered video on May 26 (archived here), to which Russia responded by issuing an arrest warrant for Graham. The politician said in a press release (archived here) that he will wear it as "a badge of honor."

Ukrainian officials later released a longer version of the footage. In the video, published on YouTube by Reuters, Zelensky thanks Graham and the US government for their bipartisan support and financial aid, to which Graham replies: "The best money we've ever spent."

Comments about Russian deaths came later in the conversation. Here is that exchange, in context:

Graham: "You remind me of our better selves in America. There was a time in America that we were this way: fighting to the last person, we're going to be free or die."

Zelensky: "Free or die."

Graham: "Free or die."

Zelensky: "Now you are free, and we will be."

Graham: "Yes, and the Russians are dying."

Zelensky: "Yes, but they came to our territory -- we are not fighting on their territory."

AFP contacted Graham's press office and the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for additional comment, but no responses were forthcoming.

AFP has fact-checked other misinformation about the war in Ukraine here.

June 7, 2023 This article was updated to add additional quotes from the conversation between US Senator Lindsey Graham and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

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