Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a blistering response to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s comparison of his actions in Ukraine to those of Adolf Hitler leading up to World War II in a television interview that aired Wednesday.
Putin accused Clinton of not being the most elegant speaker and made remarks implying women in general are not well-suited to politics.
“It’s better not to argue with women. But Ms Clinton has never been too graceful in her statements,” Putin said in a French television interview Wednesday.
Putin went on to suggest Clinton was weak and make more disparaging comments about her gender.
“Still, we always met afterwards and had cordial conversations at various international events. I think even in this case we could reach an agreement,” said Putin. “When people push boundaries too far, it’s not because they are strong but because they are weak. But maybe weakness is not the worst quality for a woman.”
In comments she later walked back, Clinton in March compared Putin’s claims he was intervening to protect Russian-speaking minorities in Crimea to Hitler’s defence of his actions in the 1930s. Clinton’s comments caused immediate controversy, as they went far beyond the measured statements of President Barack Obama and others in the administration.
Putin’s interviewer, anchor Jean-Pierre Elkabbach, followed up and asked him if he felt angry or if he wanted to “get back at” Clinton. Putin said only that her “extreme statements” made it clear she didn’t have a valid argument.
Clinton’s political opponents characterised her remarks as an attempt by the potential 2016 presidential candidate to overcompensate for a potential political liability, since she had been an architect of the Russia “reset” policy.
“I think that for anybody who’s a political observer, after seeing Putin’s aggression in Ukraine and seeing that tied to our policy toward Russia, which she was the face of, it rung like somebody who felt like they needed to flex their muscles about how tough they could be on Putin,” Tim Miller, the executive director of America Rising PAC, told Business Insider at the time, adding, “And invoking Hitler was a way of doing that that overcompensated for the actual policies she helped put in place in Russia, which in a number of ways gave them a lot of leeway.”
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