Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky insisted that his remarks about preemptive NATO nuclear strikes on Russia had been mistranslated. He really meant “preventive kicks,” he told the BBC in an interview that aired on Friday, with the British state broadcaster interpreting this as referring to sanctions.
“I said you have to do preventive kicks, not attacks,” Zelensky told BBC’s John Simpson.
Quoting him in the text accompanying the video, the BBC inserted the interpretation that this was “referring to sanctions.” This echoed the explanation offered by Zelensky’s spokesman Sergey Nikoforov, after the president’s initial remarks to the Lowy Institute in Australia went public and caused widespread outrage.
“What should NATO do? Eliminate the possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons,” Zelensky said, according to the translation of his remarks from Ukrainian. “I once again appeal to the international community, as it was before February 24: preemptive strikes so that they know what will happen to them if they use it, and not the other way around.”
The phrase he used literally translates as “preemptive strikes,” with the word “udary” in Ukrainian meaning both “strikes” and “kicks.” How exactly the word could translate as “sanctions,” neither Nikoforov nor Zelensky offered to explain.