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Former president George W. Bush makes gaffe, confusing Iraq, Ukraine in speech decrying ‘brutal’ invasion

Former President George W. Bush.MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Former president George W. Bush on Wednesday had a sensitive slip of the tongue during a speech in Dallas, blasting Russia’s “wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq” before correcting himself and clarifying for his rapt audience, “I mean, of Ukraine.”

Bush, who launched the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, made the error during remarks at the George W. Bush Institute, an arm of his presidential library.

“Russian elections are rigged,” Bush told the crowd Wednesday. “Political opponents are imprisoned or otherwise eliminated from participating in the electoral process. The result is an absence of checks and balances in Russia and the decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq.”


Bush then checked himself, telling the crowd, “I mean of Ukraine.”

“Iraq — anyway,” he continued, to laughter. “[I’m] 75.”

An estimated 200,000 civilians and more than 8,200 US service members and contractors were killed in Iraq between the March 2003 US invasion and August 2021, according to the Costs of War project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.

Meanwhile in Ukraine, Russia said Thursday that hundreds more Ukrainian fighters had emerged from their stronghold at a steel plant in the city of Mariupol and surrendered, while Ukraine’s military said in its morning briefing that Russian forces pressed their offensive in various sections of the front in the Donbas, but were being successfully repelled.

In Russian shelling that began Wednesday and continued early Thursday, four civilians were killed in the town of Sievierodonetsk, Oblast Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said. Three other civilians were wounded in the attack.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com.