One of the strangest stories in modern international affairs is Vladimir Putin’s alleged theft of Robert Kraft’s Super Bowl ring.
In a nutshell, Patriots owner Kraft said earlier this year that that President Putin stole his 2004 Super Bowl ring during a visit to Russia in 2005. Then-President Bush tried to defuse the situation and convinced Kraft to say that he gave the Putin the ring, worth more than $US25,000, as “a symbol of the respect and admiration that I have for the Russian people and [his] leadership.”
Putin’s office denied the theft, and Putin later told an audience that he remembered neither ring nor Kraft, but he would create “an expensive object, made from a nice metal, with a stone” for Kraft.
Now, in the latest twist, Kraft says that he did give Putin the ring as a gift — but he will happily take a ring back from Putin if he delivers it personally.
Here he is describing his hopes for a ring transaction to CBS This Morning (via Politico):
Kraft’s apparent admission that he gave the ring as a gift flies in the face of his previous comments on the subject. Here’s what he said earlier this year in comments first reported by the New York Post:
“I took out the ring and showed it to [Putin], and he put it on and he goes, ‘I can kill someone with this ring,’ ” Kraft told the crowd at Carnegie Hall’s Medal of Excellence gala at the Waldorf-Astoria.”I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket, and three KGB guys got around him and walked out.”
Several times, at least one of them embarrassingly public, Putin has acted like a person afflicted with kleptomania. In June 2005, while hosting a group of American businessmen in St Petersburg, Putin pocketed the 124-diamond Super Bowl ring of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. He had asked to see it, tried it on, allegedly said, ”I could kill someone with this”, then stuck it in his pocket and left the room abruptly. After a flurry of articles in the US press, Kraft announced a few days later that the ring had been a gift – preventing an uncomfortable situation from spiraling out of control.
Whatever the truth of the incident, it seems to bolster Putin’s thuggish reputation at a time when his support for Syria, Russia’s harsh LGBT laws, and ongoing controversy over Sergei Magnitsky and adoption laws have led to bad U.S.-Russia relations.
Noted anti-Putin critic John McCain seems especially keen to get the ring back, bringing up the ring in interviews with CNN and MSNBC. He even told TMZ that “sports fans, especially Patriots fans, are enraged, and I share their outrage.”
Obama is due to visit Putin’s hometown, St. Petersburg, for the G20 Summit later this week. While he is apparently planning to hold talks on a strike on Syria and meet with LGBT activists, Obama has not mentioned any plan’s related to Kraft’s ring.
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