An advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had to clarify comments about a potential Russian invasion made by the Ukrainian leader on Monday after they were misinterpreted by Western media.
Zelensky declared that this Wednesday, February 16th, will be a “Day of Unity.” He picked the 16th because it was the date Western media reports said Russia might invade Ukraine.
“They tell us February 16th will be the day of the attack. We will make it a day of unity,” Zelensky said in a video address. Western media outlets took this line as Zelensky saying he’s been informed Russia will invade this Wednesday, causing his advisor, Mykhailo Podolyak, to clarify that the Ukrainian president was only being “ironic.”
“It is quite understandable why Ukrainians today are skeptical about various ‘specific dates’ of the so-called ‘start of the invasion’ announced in the media,” Podolyak said. “When the ‘start of the invasion’ becomes some sort of rolling tour date, such media announcements can only be taken with irony.”
The US government and Western media outlets have been warning since November that Russia is planning to invade Ukraine. Russia has repeatedly denied the accusation, and Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials have been downplaying the threat.
“They are trying to frighten us by yet again naming a date for the start of military action,” Zelensky said in his video address. “On that day, we will hang our national flags, wear yellow and blue banners, and show the whole world our unity.”
The US also continues to claim that Russia might carry out a “false flag” operation in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region against the separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk republics. The Biden administration hasn’t offered any evidence to back up the assertion, but the repeated accusation signals that if there is an escalation in the Donbas war, the US can blame it on Russia, no matter who is responsible.