In an ugly Freudian slip Wednesday, President Biden accidentally said Russian troops were pulling out of “Fallujah” while intending to reference the city of Kherson in southeastern Ukraine.

Biden’s latest gaffe came after Russian forces leader Sergey Surovikinon announced he’d ordered his troops to retreat from one of the only major cities Russia captured after its Feb. 24 invasion.

“I think the context is that whether or not they’re pulling back from Fallujah – from the city of Kherson – and [Russian forces] are coming back across the river to the eastern side of the [Dnieper} river,” Biden said while answering a reporter’s question about whether Ukraine is ready to enter negotiations with Russia.

In November and December of 2004, Fallujah was the setting of the bloodiest urban conflict American forces had fought since the Vietnam War and is widely remembered as a key moment in the US invasion of Iraq.

Joe Biden
The president mixed up a city in Ukraine with a 2004 battle in Iraq.
Tom Brenner/REUTERS

Approximately 12,000 US troops fought in the battle, 82 of whom were killed, while about another 600 were wounded, according to the Pentagon. The US killed about 2,000 insurgents in the battle and captured another 1,200, military officials estimated.

The president did not say what caused him to misspeak Wednesday but also said he “found it interesting” that Russia decided to announce its withdrawal from the region after Tuesday’s US midterm elections.

“We knew for some time that they were going to be going as evidence of the fact that they have some real problems in the Russian military,” Biden said. “It remains to be seen whether or not there’ll be a judgment made as to whether or not Ukraine is prepared to compromise with Russia.”

The president said he believed Russian and Ukrainian leaders would “lick their wounds” after the withdrawal before deciding “what they’re going to do over the winter and decide whether or not they’re going to compromise.”

Ukrainian servicemen fire a 2S7 Pion self-propelled gun on the frontline in Kherson, Ukraine.
Ukrainian servicemen fire a 2S7 Pion self-propelled gun on the frontline in Kherson, Ukraine.
Viacheslav Ratynskyi/REUTERS

Biden has a history of stumbling over his words at unfortunate times, which his allies have blamed on a lifelong stutter. On Oct. 25, for example, he wished happy birthday to Vice President Kamala Harris, referring to her as a “great president.”

Biden was also mocked earlier in the month for spelling out “dot” in a website address that he read off a teleprompter. During a July trip to the Middle East, he shocked listeners in Israel by speaking of the “honor of the Holocaust” rather than its “horror” and lauded the “selfishness” of American troops serving in Saudi Arabia.



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