Fact-Checking What President Joe Biden Said in His 2024 Interview With TIME

5 minute read
Updated: | Originally published:

Read our full cover story on President Joe Biden here. You can also read the transcript of the interview here and buy a copy of the issue here

President Joe Biden sat down for an interview with TIME about America’s role in the world and his foreign policy agenda.

Below is a review of Biden’s statements from the interview. TIME has also published the transcript of the conversation.

What Biden Said: “The Russian military has been decimated. You don’t write about that. It’s been freaking decimated.”

The Facts: This is a fair assessment, according to a Reuters report on a declassified U.S. intelligence assessment provided to Congress. The intelligence determined that Russia had 360,000 active military personnel when it invaded Ukraine in February of 2022. By December of last year, 315,000 Russian troops had been either killed or injured in the war—a reduction in troop strength by 87%.

What Biden Said: "We spent a lot of money in Ukraine, but Europe has spent more money than the United States has, collectively."

The Facts: The European Union has provided over $107 billion dollars in financial, military, humanitarian, and refugee assistance since the war in Ukraine began, as of April 24. Comparatively, Congress has authorized the United States to provide up to $175 billion to support Ukraine, and has provided the country approximately $81 billion since the Russian invasion, according to the White House.

Philip Montgomery for TIME

What Biden Said: I spent a month in Ukraine when I was a Senator and Vice President.

The Facts: Biden’s trips to Ukraine include six he made as Vice President—more than any previous President or Vice President. He was also involved in Ukraine during his 36 years as a US Senator. He sponsored or co-sponsored 39 pieces of legislation in support of Ukraine, and worked on issues involving Ukraine as a longtime member of the Foreign Relations Committee, including 12 years as chairman or ranking member.

What Biden Said: "Japan [is] devoting 3% of its GDP to defense..."

The Facts: Japan aims to spend 2% of its GDP on defense by 2027, according to a statement by Prime Minister Kishida Fumio. From 1960 to 2022, Japan’s defense spending was 1% of GDP or lower.

What Biden Said: "I put together a Quad that never existed before."

The Facts: The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, known as the Quad, is a partnership between the US, Japan, Australia and India that began in 2004, following the Indian ocean tsunami. The group was formalized by then-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007, but was inactive until reforming in 2017. The Quad’s first in-person summit was held at the White House in Sept. 2021, during Biden’s first year as President.

What Biden Said: “Wage increases have exceeded what the cost of inflation…”

The Facts: New data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows hourly wage growth topping inflation for the past 12 months. In April, nominal hourly earnings were up 3.9% from a year ago; inflation held at 3.4%. But cumulative inflation has outpaced wage growth for most of the Biden presidency.

What Biden Said: “I remember when I was heading to Taiwan, excuse me, to South Korea, to reclaim the chips industry that we had gotten $865 billion in private-sector investment, private-sector investments since I’ve been in. Name me a president who’s done that.”

The Facts: The White House announced an $866 billion private-sector investment in May, not when Biden went to South Korea in 2022. The funding was also meant for initiatives across clean energy and manufacturing industries, and is not limited to just the chips industry.

What Biden Said: “There are going to be a billion people in Africa in the next several years.”

The Facts: Africa’s total population already exceeds one billion people—an estimated 1.4 billion people live on the continent. That number is expected to reach nearly 2.5 billion by 2050, according to the United Nations.

What Biden Said: “I mean, that line that Macron used, and it says that…I was making notes for this. It said, Macron, they know the experience of brain death unlike anytime. Because lack of US leadership, we should reassess the reality of NATO in light of the lack of US leadership.”

The Facts: Biden appears to be referencing what French President Emmanuel Macron said in a October 2019 interview with The Economist, in which he warned that European countries could no longer rely on the United States to come to the defense of NATO allies. “What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO,” he said, adding that the alliance “only works if the guarantor of last resort functions as such. I’d argue that we should reassess the reality of what NATO is in the light of the commitment of the United States.”

Correction, June 4

The original version of this story incorrectly described one definition of “decimate” as being “reduce to one-tenth.” It means to reduce by one-tenth. The relevant sentence has been removed.

Correction, June 5

The original version of this story misstated the assistance the U.S. has provided to Ukraine since the Russian invasion. It has provided approximately $81 billion, according to the White House, not $175 billion, which is how much Congress has authorized in aid to Ukraine and allied nations.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Write to Simmone Shah at simmone.shah@time.com and Julia Zorthian at julia.zorthian@time.com