George W. Bush made an almighty Freudian slip in a speech Thursday night by condemning Russia’s “wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq,” before correcting himself to what he meant to say, “Ukraine.”
Bush was president when the US invaded Iraq in 2003 to topple dictator Saddam Hussein, claiming he had weapons of mass destruction. No weapons were ever found, and nearly half a million Iraqi civilians are estimated to have died as a result.
The 75-year-old’s gaffe took place at a conference in Dallas, where he was criticising Russian President Vladimir Putin's autocratic leadership.
"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 said, before realising his mistake. "I mean, of Ukraine."
He blamed the mistake on his age, as the audience laughed.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has seen millions of people displaced from their homes, and thousands killed, raped and tortured.