Biden's stumbles in discussing Ukraine invasion evoke missteps during botched Afghanistan withdrawal

White House in cleanup mode over ‘dangerous’ Biden remarks

Rep. Lee Zeldin reacted to Biden’s remarks critics said suggested regime change in Russia on ‘Fox Report.’

President Biden’s multiple gaffes in discussing the Russian invasion of Ukraine evoke similar missteps during his botched military withdrawal from Afghanistan, where hundreds of Americans and Afghan allies remain stranded.

Biden wrapped up his four-day trip to Europe on Saturday after making a series of misstatements about the situation in Ukraine that warranted cleaning up by the White House and members of the administration.  

During a press conference Thursday at a NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, Biden said the U.S. would respond “in kind” if Russia used chemical weapons in Ukraine. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan later had to clarify that meant Russia would pay a “severe price,” but that “the United States has no intention of using chemical weapons, period, under any circumstances.”

President Biden delivers a speech at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, March 26, 2022.
(AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

During the same conference, Biden declared that “sanctions never deter” and that he never said the economic measures would stop Russian President Vladimir Putin from invading Ukraine, despite members of the administration, including Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, explicitly stating that the sanctions were meant to deter.

On Friday, Biden was speaking to U.S. troops in Poland when he appeared to suggest that they would soon be in Ukraine itself – something U.S. officials have repeatedly ruled out.

“And you’re going to see when you’re there… you’re going to see women, young people standing – standing… in front of a damn tank, just saying, ‘I’m not leaving. I’m holding my ground,'” Biden said. 

A White House spokesperson later clarified: “The president has been clear we are not sending U.S. troops to Ukraine and there is no change in that position.”

US President Joe Biden announces his Budget for Fiscal Year 2023 in the State Dinning Room of the White House in Washington, DC on March 28, 2022.
(Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

During a speech in Poland on Saturday, Biden said Putin “cannot remain in power,” signaling a significant change in U.S. policy toward the Kremlin. Secretary of State Antony Blinken later clarified that the U.S. is not looking for regime change in Russia. 

In January, a month before Russia launched its invasion, Biden was slammed for appearing to downplay the potential for a “minor incursion” against Ukraine.

“It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion, and then we end up having a fight about what to do and not do, et cetera,” he said. “But if they actually do what they’re capable of doing with the forces amassed on the border, it is going to be a disaster for Russia if they further invade Ukraine.”

The White House later clarified that a “renewed invasion” of Ukraine “will be met with a swift, severe, and united response from the United States and our Allies.”

The series of missteps is reminiscent of the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal just seven months ago, during which 13 U.S. service members and 170 Afghans were killed by suicide bombers at the Kabul airport.

In August, Biden faced widespread global backlash after Taliban insurgents retook Afghanistan in a matter of 11 days, winning the war 20 years after their ouster by U.S.-led forces. Just a month earlier, Biden had told Americans that the “likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely.”

On Aug. 19, four days after the Taliban seized the capital of Kabul, Biden told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that intelligence did not indicate the Afghan government would quickly collapse – despite reports that’s exactly what the intelligence said. He also said “no one’s being killed” in Afghanistan despite reports at the time of at least seven deaths amid the chaos at Kabul’s airport.

On Aug. 26, during the U.S. military’s mass evacuation at the airport, suicide bombers killed at least 183 people, including 13 U.S. service members. The U.S. retaliated by launching two drone strikes against suspected ISIS-K terrorists, one of which ended up killing 10 Afghan civilians, including seven children.

President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken look on as as a carry team moves a transfer case with the remain of Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Ind., during a casualty return at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, for the 13 service members killed in the suicide bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 26. 
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The U.S. military evacuation, which required significant cooperation from the Taliban to complete, ended a day ahead of deadline on Aug. 30, leaving behind hundreds of U.S. citizens and tens of thousands of Afghan allies, despite Biden’s promise days earlier to “get them all out.” 

A State Department spokesperson told Fox News Digital that several dozen U.S. citizens and their families are still trying to get out of Afghanistan. 

Despite telling Americans after Afghanistan’s collapse that “the buck stops with me,” Biden repeatedly blamed former President Trump and the Afghan military for how it unfolded. 

The president has not fired a single official over the withdrawal.

Fox News’ Tyler Olsen and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.

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