President Biden referred to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as “Vladimir” on Wednesday, apparently confusing him with Russian leader and US and Ukrainian adversary Vladimir Putin.
The 80-year-old president’s latest gaffe came during his remarks at the annual NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, one day after Zelensky bristled, and then quickly backtracked, at Ukraine not being extended an invitation to join the North Atlantic alliance.
“Vladimir and I … I shouldn’t be so familiar,” Biden said during a press conference in the Lithuanian capital, appearing to catch himself seconds after the blunder.
“Mr. Zelensky and I talked about the kind of guarantees we could make in the meantime when I was in Ukraine and when we met in other places,” he corrected himself as he stood feet from the Ukrainian leader.
Biden calls Zelensky ‘Vladimir’ . 🙈pic.twitter.com/2PpQ7kSdSI
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) July 12, 2023
The official White House transcript, which is usually scrupulous about picking up Biden’s misstatements, didn’t do so this time, and incorrectly notes that the commander-in-chief said, “Volodymyr.”
“Volodymyr” and “Vladimir” are different variants of the same name.
They both mean, “ruler of the world,” or “ruler of peace,” however, “Volodymyr” is the more widely used version of the name in Ukraine.
Biden has previously made numerous misstatements related to the war-torn former Soviet state.
During his 2022 State of the Union address, Biden mistakenly referred to “Ukrainians” as “Iranians” when talking about how President Putin had invaded the country in February of that year.
“Putin may circle [capital city] Kyiv with tanks, but he will never gain the hearts and souls of the Iranian people,” Biden said.
In 2022, he also accidentally said Russian troops were pulling out of “Fallujah” – the site of a major battle during the Iraq war – while intending to reference the city of Kherson in southeastern Ukraine.
As recently as last month, Biden confused Ukraine and Iraq twice in 12 hours.
In one instance he told reporters on the White House lawn that “[Putin’s] clearly losing the war in Iraq.”
In another gaffe at a fundraiser the night before, he made a similar error.
“Think about this,” Biden said.
“If anybody told you — and my staff wasn’t so sure, either — that we’d be able to bring all of Europe together in the onslaught on Iraq and get NATO to be completely united, I think they would have told you it’s not likely.”
Biden, already the oldest president in US history, announced in April that he will run for re-election in 2024 despite mounting questions about his mental acuity.
If re-elected, the president would be 86-years-old by the end of his second term.
Biden raised eyebrows on Tuesday when he skipped the NATO leadership summit’s opening dinner, with White House staff citing his busy workweek.