US President Joe Biden referred to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as “Vladimir” in an apparent gaffe on Wednesday, confusing the Ukraine leader with Russian adversary Vladimir Putin.
Biden made the latest gaffe during his remarks at the annual NATO summit in Lithuania a day after Zelensky criticised NATO’s “uncertainty” and “weakness” over his country’s possible membership as the alliance’s leaders met in Vilnius, saying this encouraged Russian aggression.
“Vladimir and I … I shouldn’t be so familiar,” Biden said during a press conference in Vilnius, appearing to catch himself immediately 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,” Biden said as he corrected himself.
Biden’s speech was shared on social media where netizens pointed out the mistake.
A Twitter user called it “simply unbelievable” and posted the video. “This old man must just take a rest now,” another user tweeted in response.
However, others noted that the similarity in Volodymyr and Vladimir was an easy mistake to make.
According to reports, ‘Volodymyr’ and ‘Vladimir’ are different variants of the same name. The two words mean ‘ruler of the world’ or ‘ruler of peace’, however, ‘Volodymyr’ is more widely used version in Ukraine.
The gaffe comes just two days after Joe Biden caused a stir on Monday when he appeared to breach royal protocol by touching King Charles III during a ceremony at Windsor Castle.
When Biden’s car arrived at the Caste, King Charles greeted him with a handshake. However, the US President raised eyebrows by placing his hand on the monarch’s elbow as the two men shook hands and later put his hands on the monarch’s back. According to the protocol, the monarch is generally not to be touched.
Joe Biden has made several misstatements related to Ukraine war in over a year.
Last year, during the State of the Union address, the US President had mistakenly referred to “Ukrainians” as “Iranians”, while he was speaking about how Russian President Vladimir Putin had invaded the country.
“Putin may circle Kyiv with tanks, but he will never gain the hearts and souls of the Iranian people,” Biden had said.
He also accidentally said the same year that the Russian troops were pulling out of ‘Fallujah,’ the site of a major battle during the Iraq war, while referring Kherson in southeastern Ukraine.
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Last month, in another gaffe, he told reporters in the White House lawn that “Putin is clearly losing the war in Iraq.”
Joe Biden, the oldest president in US history, has announced earlier this year that he will run for re-election next year despite mounting questions over his mental acuity. If re-elected, the Democratic president would be 86-years-old by the end of his second term.
first published: July 13, 2023, 12:19 IST
last updated: July 13, 2023, 12:25 IST