Candace Owens Takes Aim at Volodymyr Zelensky: 'Wants Us to Hate Him'

Conservative commentator Candace Owens said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky "wants us to hate him," in reaction to a report that he was pitched to appear at this weekend's Oscars but was rejected by the awards show's organizers.

In an article published on Thursday, Variety reported that power agent Mike Simpson urged the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to include the Ukrainian leader in the telecast virtually but was shut down.

Per the publication, Simpson became involved in the push for his appearance at the show because he represents Aaron Kaufman, who co-directed with Sean Penn the Zelensky documentary Superpower, which was released last month.

Penn has publicly urged the U.S. government to step up its military aid to Ukraine amid Russia's ongoing invasion, which is in its second year. Zelensky also made such a request during a visit to the U.S in December.

Candace Owens slams Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
Conservative commentator Candace Owens on April 19, 2022, in Nashville, Tennessee. In inset, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on March 8, 2023, in Kyiv, Ukraine. Owens criticized Zelensky in reaction to a report that a bid for him to appear at this weekend's Academy Awards was rejected by the event's organizers. Jason Davis/Getty Images;/Roman Pilipey/Getty Images

According to Variety, this marks the second year in a row that the comedian-turned-politician has been rejected from taking part in the telecast. When last year's ceremony aired, Russia was just weeks into its military strikes on Ukraine.

Newsweek reached out to representatives of AMPAS and Simpson via email for comment.

The Variety article was shared on social media, where Owens, who has publicly criticized Zelensky on several occasions, weighed in.

Commenting over a link to the article, Owens wrote of the Ukrainian leader: "I feel like Zelensky wants us to hate him. It's working."

Drumming up support for his country amid the ongoing war, Zelensky has made numerous remote appearances at entertainment-focused events, including the Berlin, Cannes and Venice film festivals and January's Golden Globe Awards. Last year, he made a surprise appearance at the Grammy Awards.

Owens recently shared misleading video footage of Zelensky on her Daily Wire show as she spoke about her desire to punch him "in the face."

The TV and social media personality played a seconds-long clip that she described as showing Zelensky "warning you of what will happen if you stop funding his lifestyle."

Owens previously accused Zelensky of "stealing from our people" referring to U.S. aid to Ukraine.

Oscars statuettes during Academy Awards preparations
Oscar statues before being painted for the 95th Academy Awards on March 8, 2023, in Los Angeles, California. PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

In the clip Owens recently shared, Zelensky was heard saying: "The U.S. will have to send their sons and daughters exactly the same way as we are sending our sons and daughters to war. And they will have to fight because it's nature that we're talking about. And they will be dying, God forbid, because it's a horrible thing."

"Oof," Owens said in reaction to the video. "I am not going to say that I'd like to punch Zelensky in the face, because that's violent. But I am saying that if I could get away with punching one person in the face and have no consequences, it would be President Zelensky.

"I can't even tell you how much, oof, I harbor for him. The audacity to tell you that the consequence is going to be that your sons and daughters are going to fight and die if you don't help him secure a win against Russia. Wow. That's bold. But why shouldn't he be feeling bold? He's got, he's got our congressmen waving the Ukrainian flag in our chambers, right. In our congressional chambers."

The short clip of Zelensky speaking was taken from the Ukrainian president's lengthy February 24 press conference, which was held to mark the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion.

The clip went viral on social media last week, with many suggesting it shows the Ukrainian leader calling on people in the U.S. to send their children to fight in Ukraine.

It was shared on Twitter by The Hodgetwins, also known as the Conservative Twins. The Hodgetwins are an American stand-up comedy and conservative political commentary duo of identical twin brothers Keith and Kevin Hodge.

Volodymyr Zelensky at the Grammy Awards
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appears at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards on April 3, 2022, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Rich Fury/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

In a fact check conducted by Newsweek, it was found that the short clip is missing a lot of context. Zelensky's remarks were in response to a wider question about opinion polls in the U.S. that indicate a growing number of Americans believe the Biden administration is providing too much support to Ukraine.

Ukraine's president was asked about what his message would be to Americans with those concerns.

Zelensky began by thanking Americans for showing support to Ukraine, and said he believed withdrawing or decreasing support could hypothetically have an impact on their children, should Russia win the war as a result.

"Are American children any different from ours? Don't Americans enjoy the same things as we do?" he asked rhetorically. "I don't think we're very different."

Zelensky suggested that if American support for Ukraine weakened and depleted, and Kyiv went on to lose the war against Russia, NATO members, including the U.S., risk being dragged into a bigger conflict.

"Russia is going to enter Baltic states, NATO member states, and then the U.S. will have to send their sons and daughters, exactly the same way as we are sending our sons and daughters, to war," Zelensky said. "And they will have to fight because it's NATO that we're talking about and they will be dying, God forbid, because it's a horrible thing."