President Biden stumbled repeatedly Tuesday during remarks on US aid to Ukraine — saying the United States “made sure Russia had Javelins” and noting the successful “Hungarian” resistance to Russia’s invasion.
Biden made the glaring gaffes at an Alabama facility that makes the anti-tank missiles.
The context of Biden’s remarks made clear he knew the US was actually arming Ukraine’s government with the sophisticated weapon, and he correctly identified the recipient nation at some points in his remarks.
“Before Russia attacked, we made sure Russia had Javelins and other weapons to strengthen their defenses so Ukraine was ready for whatever happened,” Biden said midway through his 16-minute speech at the plant.
Later, Biden said, “Just a few days ago, the Wall Street Journal quoted a young Hungarian fighter saying, ‘Without the Javelins, it would have been very hard to stop the enemy pushing ahead.’”
The Journal’s report actually quoted a private first class named Oleksandr in Ukraine’s 128th Separate Mountain Assault Transcarpathian Brigade. The article does not identify him as Hungarian.
The president, who turns 80 this year, ironically began his remarks joking about his propensity to misspeak.
“Every once in a while I make a mistake, not like, well, once a speech,” Biden said, before proceeding to bungle two key facts about the conflict.
Biden drew negative attention Monday when he referred to himself as Delaware’s first senator, instead of as the state’s first president. And on at least four occasions, Biden has mistakenly referred to “President” Kamala Harris, who is his vice president.
Other moments in Biden’s speech were more precise.
“You’re allowing the Ukrainians to defend themselves. And quite frankly, they are making fools of the Russian military in many instances,” Biden said. “A big part of the reason they’ve been able to keep up fighting and to make this war a strategic failure for Russia is because the United States together with our allies and partners have had their back.”
Meanwhile his Democratic defenders note that he’s long been prone to gaffes and that Republicans also misspeak. Former President Donald Trump, 75, on Sunday mixed up the name of the Ohio Republican Senate candidate he endorsed, referring to his pick JD Vance as “JP, right? JD Mandel.”
Last month, Biden confused his administration’s effort to restore a mass transit mask mandate with an expiring policy used to turn away most illegal immigrants and blundered repeatedly during a trip to Europe focused on rallying US allies against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Biden told a crowd of Army paratroopers that they would witness the bravery of Ukrainian civilians defending their country “when you’re there” — forcing a White House aide to release a statement saying that “the president has been clear we are not sending US troops to Ukraine and there is no change in that position.”
Asked about the remark, Biden added further confusion by saying he was referring to training Ukrainian troops in Poland — despite his administration insisting there was no such training program. White House communications director Kate Bedingfield insisted Biden had not accidentally revealed a previously secret US training effort.
Earlier in the trip, Biden said at a press conference in Belgium that the US would respond “in kind” if Russia used chemical weapons in Ukraine — prompting national security adviser Jake Sullivan to tell reporters aboard Air Force One that “the United States has no intention of using chemical weapons, period, under any circumstance.”
Before returning to DC, Biden told a crowd in Poland that Putin “cannot remain in power” — yet again forcing a White House cleanup operation.
An unnamed subordinate claimed Biden “was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia” and White House chief of staff Ron Klain retweeted a post saying Biden had a “lapse in discipline.”
But Biden later contradicted his staff. “I’m not walking anything back,” Biden said, adding that “I was talking to the Russian people” and that “it’s more an aspiration than anything. He shouldn’t be in power.”