US Vice President Kamala Harris has said that, by fighting Russia, Ukraine is defending the US-led NATO alliance in an apparent gaffe.
In a speech to the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) winter meeting in Washington, DC on Saturday, Harris argued that Russia’s offensive in Ukraine “threatens not just Ukraine’s democracy” but “democracy and security across Europe,” as well as overseas.
“The ocean that separates us will not leave us untouched by this aggression,” Harris claimed, before seemingly suggesting that Ukraine is doing NATO’s bidding.
“So I will say what I know we all say, and I will say over and over again: The United States stands firmly with the Ukrainian people in defense of the NATO alliance,” she said.
Does Kamala Harris, our sitting Vice President, think Ukraine is a part of NATO?
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) March 12, 2022
However, the transcript of the speech released by the White House suggested that Harris misspoke with “and” being added before “in defense of the NATO alliance.”
“The United States stands firmly with the Ukrainian people and in defense of the NATO Alliance,” the transcript reads.
That did not stop the VP’s critics on social media from accusing her of a foreign policy blunder. Some Republicans questioned whether Harris mistakenly believed Ukraine was a member of the alliance.
While Kiev was initially passionate about joining NATO, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky indicated this week that he had become less interested in the idea, accusing the US-led military bloc of not doing enough to support Ukraine. NATO has previously rejected Zelensky’s appeal for the establishment of a no-fly zone over the country, arguing it would drag the whole alliance into the conflict with Russia.
“I’ve become less passionate about this issue after we understood that NATO isn’t ready to accept Ukraine,” said Zelensky on Monday, accusing NATO of being “afraid of controversial things and a confrontation with Russia.”
“I’ve never wanted Ukraine to be a country that is on its knees, begging for something. And we’re not going to be that country,” he added.