Russian President Vladimir Putin was “infuriated” by a recent comment from U.S. President Barack Obama that compared Putin to a “bored kid in the back of a classroom,” according to a report in the New York Times on Thursday.
Obama made the comment at an Aug. 9 press conference, when he was asked whether recent icy developments in the U.S.-Russia relationship would have an effect on how the countries could work together to get things accomplished.
Obama disagreed that he had a “bad” personal relationship with Putin, instead taking a dig at Putin’s body language.
“I don’t have a bad personal relationship with Putin,” Obama said. “When we have conversations, they’re candid. They’re blunt. Oftentimes they’re constructive. I know the press likes to focus on body language, and he’s got that kind of slouch, looking like the bored kid in the back of the classroom. But the truth is, is that when we’re in conversations together, oftentimes it’s very productive.”
Putin was “infuriated” by the comment, according to the Times, whose source was “one Russian official not authorised to be quoted by name.”
Two days before the press conference, Obama had canceled a planned one-on-one meeting with Putin before the G-20 summit in Russia next month, citing a lack of progress on certain issues. In a statement, the White House also cited Russia’s “disappointing” decision to grant National Security Agency leak source Edward Snowden asylum.
The U.S. and Russia’s relationship is also being tested now over Syria, where Putin has been reluctant to engage in growing international calls for intervention. Putin also backs the Assad regime in Syria.
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