As fighting rages on in Bakhmut, divisions in the U.S. over Western involvement and contributions to Russia’s war in Ukraine have begun to show up in Congress.
Representatives including Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) have publicly opposed further funding for the war. Congress has already approved $112 billion in aid.
Echoing this, a clip shared on social media this week claimed that a U.S. Senator had said the American government had helped instate the current Ukrainian government through a coup, adding that President Volodymyr Zelensky was a “puppet” of the West.
Ukrainian honor guard attend a ceremony in memory of the Maidan activists also called the “Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred”, referring to the people killed during the anti-government demonstration of 2014, in western Ukrainian city of Lviv on February 20, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. YURIY DYACHYSHYN/AFP via Getty Images
A tweet by user @thedailyrabbit, posted on March 3, 2023, claims to include what it described as “Confessions of a U.S. Senator” by “Richard Black (R), Virginia” stating that the U.S. “staged a coup d’état in Ukraine.”
The post, viewed more than 7,000 times, read: “Confessions of a U.S. Senator. We staged a coup d’état in Ukraine. Zelensky is a puppet. He does what he is told to do, when he is told to do it. He is entirely and completely a product of the media. Richard Black (R), Virginia”
The “coup” referred to here is the 2014 Maidan Revolution of 2014, a popular uprising that unseated pro-Kremlin President Viktor Yanukovych.
Moscow claims the uprising—in which more than 100 anti-government protesters were killed—was a coup planned and executed by U.S. and European intelligence agencies.
There are a number of misleading elements to this tweet. Firstly, the video is not a “confession” at all. It is footage from an interview with Russian state-funded broadcaster RT, hosted on the video site Rumble.
The interview was a discussion of his opinions on the conflict in Ukraine and the parallels he attempted to draw with the war in Iraq.
The video on Twitter removes this context by deleting the sections shot in the studio as well as all of the banners and logos indicating that it was broadcast by RT.
Secondly, Richard Black is no longer a senator having retired in 2020. Additionally, Black was a state senator in Virginia. He did not, as the tweet implies, sit in the U.S. Senate.
The tweet did not provide the necessary context for readers to be able to judge the significance of the footage, which only contained the opinions of a retired state senator.
While the RT interview couches the claims within it as being Black’s own, Newsweek has previously checked misleading content it broadcast.
In May 2022, the channel helped share a claim that First Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyanskiy, was hurried out of an interview after making comparisons between the Ukrainian army and Nazis.
Polyanskiy was not cut short or censored despite claims to the contrary, and was in fact given more airtime than each of the other guests on the program.
The footage shared on Twitter is not a confession, it comes from an interview by Russian state-funded broadcaster RT. The interviewee, Richard Black, is giving his opinions on Ukraine.
Black is a former Republican politician. He did not sit in the U.S. Senate as the tweet suggests. He served as a state senator in the Virginia Senate.
FACT CHECK BY Newsweek’s Fact Check team