In a wide-ranging interview with French TV this evening, Russian President Vladimir Putin took a swing at former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, responding particularly to remarks she made earlier this year in which she compared Russia’s tactics to Adolf Hitler’s in the 1930s.
“It’s better not to argue with women,” Putin said, taking specific aim at Clinton’s gender. “But Ms. Clinton has never been too graceful in her statements.”
Putin does say the two might be able to laugh together at a good joke “someday,” but that for now he’s not impressed by her “extreme” statements.
“When people push boundaries too far, it’s not because they are strong but because they are weak,” he added. “But maybe weakness is not the quality for a woman.”
Clinton first raised the similarities between Hitler’s actions in the 1930s and Putin’s occupation of Crimea at a fundraiser in California early this year.
“Now if this sounds familiar, it’s what Hitler did back in the ’30s,” she said, according to a report in the Long Beach Press Telegram. “All the Germans that were … the ethnic Germans, the Germans by ancestry who were in places like Czechoslovakia and Romania and other places, Hitler kept saying, ‘They’re not being treated right. I must go and protect my people,’ and that’s what’s gotten everybody so nervous.”
She later clarified her comments, saying Putin isn’t exactly like Hitler, he’s just doing a lot of Hitler-like things.
Here’s the full translated exchange of Putin’s comments from French TV tonight:
QUESTION: Perhaps, it would be worse if you were meeting with Hillary Clinton. Only a few days ago, she said that what Russia is doing in Eastern Europe resembles what Hitler was doing in the 1930s.
PUTIN: It’s better not to argue with women. But Ms. Clinton has never been too graceful in her statements. Still, we always met afterwards and had cordial conversations at various international events. I think even in this case we could reach an agreement. 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.
QUESTION (via interpreter): Women must be respected, of course, and I’m sure you respect them. Do you think she went too far? There is a lot of mockery and cartoons in the media, including those showing you. What was your first reaction? Were you angry? Did you want to get back at her or laugh? We have never seen you laugh.
PUTIN: Someday I will indulge myself and we will laugh together at some good joke. But when I hear such extreme statements, to me it only means that they don’t have any valid arguments. Speaking of U.S. policy, it’s clear that the United States is pursuing the most aggressive and toughest policy to defend their own interests – at least, this is how the American leaders see it – and they do it persistently.
In April, Clinton gave a deep read on Putin’s personality during an event in California, where she compared the encounters she has had with him to those she experienced on an elementary school playground.
“He is very difficult to read personally,” she said. “He is always looking for advantage. So he will try to put you ill at ease. He will even throw an insult your way. He will look bored and dismissive. He’ll do all of that.”
But Clinton said she was never fazed.
“I have a lot of experience with people acting like that,” she quipped. “Go back to elementary school. I’ve seen all of that, so I’m not impressed by it.”