You guys ask really insightful questions!’ Sarcastic Biden, 80, asks press to LEAVE after telling Zelensky will keep sending billions to fund the war, calling him ‘Vladimir’ and getting ushered off stage.
- Biden issued a rallying cry to back Kyiv’s armed forces alongside fellow G7 leaders
- The world’s leading economies vowed to provide ‘long-term’ security aid to the war-torn nation
- The announcement came a day after Ukraine’s leader unleashed a social media tirade slamming the move not to offer his country a pathway to join NATO
Joe Biden looks set to face fresh questions over his fitness for office after he mixed up Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.
The 80-year-old commander-in-chief referred to Zelensky as ‘Vladimir’ as he poured praise on the Ukrainian military for its fightback against Moscow’s troops.
It is yet another high-profile gaffe from Biden, who will be 86 at the end of his second term if re-elected, quickly corrected himself ‘for being too familiar.’
The president regularly uses cue cards in his public appearances because aides are worried about his regular slip-ups.
Biden had just vowed to stand by Ukraine ‘as long as it takes’ as he and fellow G7 leaders announced a new security deal for Kyiv.
It came just one day after Volodymyr Zelensky launched a social media tirade against his Western allies over what he called an ‘absurd’ delay to setting out a pathway to his country’s full membership of the NATO military alliance.
‘We are going to be there as long as it takes,’ Biden said in a speech flanked by fellow leaders from the G7, a club of the world’s richest economies that includes Britain and France.
‘We are going to help Ukraine build a strong and capable defense across land, air and sea,’ he added before being ushered off stage, insisting the Ukrainian military would be ‘a force of stability in the region.’
The president insisted that his administration would not abandon Ukraine as he announced ‘long term commitments’ to support the country’s military and protect it from further Russian aggression
Most Western allies have already provided substantive military support, but mainly to be used by land forces. Western fighter jets or warships have not been delivered so far.
Biden and his Ukrainian counterpart later sat down for long-awaited talks in Vilnius, Lithuania on the second day of a key NATO summit.
The president acknowledged that sometimes Ukraine was ‘frustrated’ with the speed and scope of arms deliveries but vowed that the U.S. ‘is not going anywhere.’
Dressed in his trademark olive green combat fatigues, Zelensky appeared to row back on his bullish outburst from 24 hours earlier.
He thanked ‘all Americans’ for their support and standing ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with Kyiv.
The commander-in-chief’s remarks come just hours after his National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan made pointed comments at a foreign policy forum that appeared to criticize Kyiv officials.
Sullivan slammed claims from an anti-corruption activist that Biden was not willing to offer full NATO membership to Ukraine because he was ‘afraid of Russia’ and said American taxpayers should receive ‘a degree of gratitude’ for their support of the country.
But the security deal announced on Wednesday still falls short of the timeline for joining the Brussels-based mutual defense club that Kyiv had sought.
Nor will it see foreign troops sent to Ukraine in the event of a future Russian invasion.
Zelensky had annoyed some members of the U.S. delegation with a blistering Twitter outburst shortly before he arrived.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky came into the summit blasting NATO allies for not providing a date when Ukraine would be invited to join
‘It’s unprecedented and absurd when time frame is not set neither for the invitation nor for Ukraine’s membership. While at the same time vague wording about ‘conditions’ is added even for inviting Ukraine,’ Zelensky said.
‘This means that a window of opportunity is being left to bargain Ukraine’s membership in NATO in negotiations with Russia,’ he said. ‘And for Russia, this means motivation to continue its terror.’
He followed that up with a speech to an adoring crowd in the town square of Vilnius, where locals have long memories about the decades when Lithuania was absorbed into the Soviet empire.
Joe Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan hit out at suggestions that Washington was going soft on Russia by refusing to extend a formal invitation to Kyiv for NATO membership.
Speaking at the NATO Public Forum event, Sullivan slammed anti-corruption activist Daria Kaleniuk after she suggested Biden was ‘afraid of Russia, afraid of Ukraine winning.’
The top Biden aide said: ‘The United States of America has stepped up to provide an enormous amount of capacity to help ensure that Ukraine’s brave soldiers have the ammunition, air defense, the infantry, fighting vehicles, the mine clearing equipment and so much else to be able to effectively defend against Russia’s onslaught and to take territory back as well.
‘I think the American people do deserve a degree of gratitude from the United States government for their willingness to step up and from the rest of the world as well.’
In a thinly veiled swipe at Ukrainian criticism of their Western allies, Sullivan said some of the claims made against the U.S. were ‘entirely unfounded and unjustified.’
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace echoed Sullivan’s remarks with an unusually blunt riposte to the Ukrainian government.
‘There is a slight word of caution here which is that, whether we like it or not, people want to see gratitude,’ he told reporters.
‘My counsel to the Ukrainians… you’re persuading countries to give up their own stocks. And yes, the war is a noble war and yes, we see it as you are doing a war for not just yourself but our freedoms.
‘But sometimes you’ve got to persuade lawmakers on the Hill in America. You’ve got to persuade doubting politicians in other countries that it’s worth it and it’s worthwhile and they’re getting something for it. ‘Whether you like that or not, that is just the reality of it.’
Ukraine is deeply suspicious of any less-binding security ‘assurances’, given that Russia’s invasion already trampled the so-called Budapest Memorandum under which international powers committed to keeping the country safe in exchange for Kyiv giving up its Soviet-era nuclear arms.
The Kremlin has already called the plans ‘potentially very dangerous’ for European security.
White House national security official Amanda Sloat earlier talked up the new joint NATO communique on Ukraine for what it did signal, as opposed to what Ukrainian president Zelensky said it lacked.
He spoke in the Vilnius town square and brandished a Bakhmut battle flag, speaking with his wife Olena Zelenska
Biden, here with NATO Sec. Gen. Jens Stoltenberg, has cautioned against admitting Ukraine while it is in a war
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky (R) and his wife Olena Zelenska (L) participate in a family photograph ahead of the social dinner during the NATO summit. Biden skipped the event
Turkish President Recep Erdogan, who met with Biden, announced he would get behind a bid to allow Sweden to join the group
She called it ‘unprecedented,’ adding on a call with reporters traveling with the president that ‘we reaffirmed that Ukraine will become a member of the NATO alliance.
She noted that the negotiators upgraded a ‘commission’ on Ukraine to a ‘council.’
Back in 2008, in a move still on the minds of diplomats gathered in Vilnius, members in Bucharest said Georgia and Ukraine would eventually become members of the powerful group. Russia invaded Russia months later.
Zelensky was less biting in comments to reporters Wednesday.
He said he is working to make sure Ukraine ‘will have this invitation when security measures will allow,’ adding, ‘We want to be on the same page with everybody.’
He has a long track record of demanding more, even from allies who are providing heavy weapons to help Ukraine battle Russia’s invasion, often to useful effect.
Writing on Telegram, he later thanked Australia after Canberra agreed to give Ukraine a new package including 30 Bushmaster armored vehicles following talks with the country’s prime minister, Anthony Albanese.
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