George W. Bush Institute George W. Bush
The former president, 75, made the gaffe while giving a speech at an event in Dallas, Texas, on Wednesday, during which he criticized Russia's political system.
"Russian elections are rigged," he said, as seen in video of the speech shared online by Dallas News journalist Michael Williams. "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 continued, before correcting himself, stating, "I mean of Ukraine."
Bush then shrugged and said, "Iraq, too," before he added, "Anyway, 75," referring to his current age.
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Speaking in Dallas this afternoon, former President George. W Bush made a significant verbal slip-up while discussing the war in Ukraine.
He tried referencing what he described as the “wholly unjustified and brutal invasion” — but said Iraq, instead of Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/tw0VNJzKmE
— Michael Williams (@michaeldamianw) May 19, 2022
The United States led an invasion of Iraq when Bush was president in 2003. The war, which lasted until 2011, claimed the lives of thousands of both American troop members and Iraqi civilians.
A representative for Bush did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
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Bush's mistake came as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues after their forces launched a large-scale invasion on Feb. 24 — the first major land conflict in Europe in decades.
Putin, 69, insists Ukraine has historic ties to Russia and he is acting in the best security interests of his country. Zelenskyy, 44, vowed not to bend.
"Nobody is going to break us, we're strong, we're Ukrainians," he told the European Union in a speech in the early days of the fighting, adding, "Life will win over death. And light will win over darkness."