Johnson made the gaffe during his first speech as a backbench member of Parliament, speaking on the topic of the war in Ukraine. He quickly corrected himself, saying he meant to say Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, drawing laughs from Parliament.
“Thanks also, of course, to the inspirational leadership of Vladimir Putin,” Johnson said before catching himself, making wild motions with his hands. “Sorry, Volodymyr Zelensky — forgive me. The Russian forces have, in recent days, been expelled from large parts of the northeast of the country, around Kharkiv, and they’re under increasing pressure in Kherson in the south, and I have no doubt that the — no doubt whatever that the Ukrainians will win.”
Johnson has been one of Zelensky’s most outspoken allies outside the country and has presented his heavy support for Ukraine as one of his greatest accomplishments as prime minister. During his tenure, he made two official trips to the country, being photographed meeting with Zelensky in person.
Johnson’s corrected speech echoed many of his previous statements about the war in Ukraine, mainly his praise for Zelensky and belief that Ukraine will emerge victorious.