The US leader delivered his most recent gaffe during a keynote speech at the NATO summit
US President Joe Biden mixed up Russia and Ukraine during a speech at the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania on Wednesday. His gaffe came just days after a US State Department spokesman made a similar slip of the tongue when referring to the current conflict.
“Russia could end this war tomorrow by withdrawing its forces from Ukraine, recognize its international borders and ceasing its attacks on, its inhumane attacks, on Russia,” Biden said on Wednesday. “I mean by Russia, on Ukraine,” he quickly corrected himself.
On Tuesday evening, an unnamed US official had told reporters that Biden was preparing for the “big speech tomorrow” and had just finished “four full days of official business,” and would skip a dinner hosted by Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda. Critics responded by posting photos of Biden relaxing on the beach in Delaware on Sunday, ahead of his trip to Europe.
Biden has a long history of verbal gaffes, which a sympathetic press has tried to brush off as relics of an alleged childhood stutter. Two weeks ago, at an impromptu press conference outside the White House, Biden puzzlingly claimed that Russia was “losing the war in Iraq.” Many US outlets tried to edit out the “Iraq” part when quoting him, but his remarks were captured live on video.
On Monday, however, the news outlet Axios reported that the US president had a short temper and often verbally abused his staff. They even quoted a former Senate aide who described Biden in a 2012 memoir as an “egomaniacal autocrat… determined to manage his staff through fear.”
Biden’s frequent outbursts of anger have led critics to speculate the US president might be suffering from dementia. One of them, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, has described Biden as an “old, rotten, demented stump,” and an “ill and miserable old man” in a series of recent Tweets.
Biden is not the only US official to have made verbal slip-ups about the Ukraine conflict recently, however. On Monday, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller twice declared it to be a “strategic failure for Ukraine,” even as reporters in the Foggy Bottom briefing room intervened to suggest that he surely meant Russia.