Russian President Vladimir Putin thinks U.S. President Barack Obama would save him if he were drowning. And on Friday, Obama cleared up any doubt — he said he “absolutely” would help Putin.
“I absolutely would save Mr. Putin if he were drowning,” Obama told reporters Friday morning in South Korea. “I would like to think that if anyone is out there drowning, I will save them. I used to be a pretty good swimmer — I grew up in Hawaii. Though a little out of practice.”
Putin received the strange question from a 6-year-old girl during an annual televised call-in with the nation last week. He said he thought despite the lack of a personal relationship with Obama and recent, escalating tensions over the Ukraine crisis, Obama was a “courageous” man who would save him.
“I don’t want to be drowning!” Putin said, according to a translation by Russia Today. “I don’t think I have a close personal relationship with Obama. I think Obama is courageous and a good person, and for sure he would save me.”
The personal relationship between Putin and Obama has deteriorated over Obama’s second term in office. Conflicting positions various issues — from the Syrian civil war, to the asylum of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, to the current situation in Ukraine — have strained relations between the U.S. and Russia.
Obama made the more lighthearted comments on Friday as he continued to stress more Russian sanctions were “teed up.” On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry provided Russia with an ultimatum of sorts, warning more sanctions were on their way if Russia did not start complying with the deal reached in Geneva, Switzerland, last week designed to de-escalate the conflict.
Obama said he was disappointed on Friday that in his second term, Putin has “had an increasing tendency to view the world through a Cold War prism and to see Russia’s interests as invariably in conflict with the West.”
“I disagree with him with what’s in Russia’s interest, but he’s the president of that country,” Obama said.
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