Biden wrongly calls Ukraine an aggressor while announcing tanks in Kyiv

WASHINGTON — President Biden erroneously declared Ukraine the aggressor in its war with Russia on Wednesday while announcing the donation of 31 M1 Abrams tanks to the embattled Eastern European country.

The 80-year-old commander-in-chief made the glaring mistake during a nine-minute speech at the White House shortly after his administration confirmed the tank donation in coordination with contributions from other countries in the NATO.

Biden said the United States was sending the aid “to help counter brutal aggression from Ukraine,” before quickly adding, “this is happening because of Russia.”

Moments earlier, the president grabbed the job title of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin before making an improvised replacement.

“The secretary of state and the secretary of – of, of, the military behind me are – they have been deeply, deeply involved in this whole effort,” he said.

President Biden incorrectly declared Ukraine to be the aggressor in the war against Russia during a speech at the White House on January 25, 2023.
Shawn Thew – Pool via CNP/MEGA

an American soldier helps maneuver an Abrams tank from a wagon.
Ukraine has asked its Western supporters for battle tanks in preparation for an expected Russian offensive this spring.
AFP via Getty Images

The US donation – on the 45th birthday of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky – follows Germany’s decision to transfer Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine ahead of a planned Russian offensive after 11 months of war.

At one point in his remarks, Biden also referred to the post-Soviet state as “Ukraine,” an anachronistic term that was more commonly used before the country gained independence from Moscow in 1991.

“Secretary Austin recommended this step because it will enhance Ukraine’s ability to defend its territory and achieve its strategic objectives,” the president said.

In response to a reporter’s question, Biden denied his hand was forced by Berlin’s decision, saying, “Germany didn’t force me to change your [sic] thought. We wanted to make sure we were all together.

The announcement is an abrupt pivot that comes six days after Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said, “It just doesn’t make sense to provide [M1s] to Ukrainians right now” because the tanks have a gas turbine engine that runs on jet fuel.

President Biden announced that the United States would send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine on January 25, 2023.
President Biden has referred to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (right) as ‘Secretary of the Army’.
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Biden has stumbled before referring to Austin in public remarks. In March 2021, he appeared to forget the name of the Pentagon’s first African-American chief, saying, “I want to thank the sec – the, the, ah former general. I keep calling him general, but my, my–the guy that runs that team over there.

Biden is the oldest US president ever and his mental acuity is often the subject of public debate, although his defenders say he is simply prone to gaffes.

Reporters were made aware of the tank’s contribution during a Wednesday morning background call plagued by bizarre sound issues. The most important parts of the ad were apparently muted for unknown reasons.

The Biden administration official leading the call twice tried to announce the U.S. contribution of the tanks, but after saying the number “31” their audio cut out, forcing another official to specify 31 Abrams tanks on a third test.

It’s unclear why the call, which also appeared to mute the official’s attempts to share other specific details, had audio issues. The White House uses a third-party teleconferencing contractor for press announcements.

Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, right, react as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy presents lawmakers with a Ukrainian flag autographed by frontline troops in Bakhmut.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked for more US help during a visit to Washington in December.

Congress in December approved $44 billion in aid for Ukraine’s defense against Russia after approving a $40 billion tranche in May. Although most members of Congress supported the stipends, there is growing resistance in both parties.

Biden announced the US donation of a Patriot missile defense battery to Ukraine in December when Zelensky traveled to Washington to thank the US government for its assistance and to ask for even more.

“Just like the brave American soldiers who held their lines and fought Hitler’s forces during Christmas 1944, the brave Ukrainian soldiers are doing the same with Putin’s forces this Christmas,” Zelensky said in a rousing Dec. 21 speech. before the members of the House and the Senate. , in which he predicted that “next year will be a turning point. I know it – the time when Ukrainian courage and American determination must guarantee the future of our common freedom.

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