Vladimir Putin responded to Hillary Clinton’s deft Hitler comparison with his characteristic panache in an interview with French media Wednesday, saying “it’s better not to argue with women,” but that “Mrs. Clinton has never been too graceful in her statements.”
Clinton had said Putin’s distributing passports to ethnic Russians in the Crimea is like “what Hitler did back in the ’30s” at a California fundraiser in March. “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.”
Putin, who is in France ahead of D-Day commemoration events with world leaders this week, responded by saying that “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.” (RELATED: Putin Snubs Obama With Racist Joke)
This isn’t the first time Hillary’s gotten creative with historical analogies. In a 2012 news conference while Secretary of State, she accused Putin of wanting to “re-Sovietize” Eurasia, a comment she’s since repeated, adding that Putin is “a tough guy with a thin skin.”
“You keep drawing up these analogies, they hurt more than they can help,” said Lawrence J. Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. “Whatever Putin is, he wasn’t like Hitler. He didn’t massacre thousands of non-Russians in Georgia or anything like that.”
The half-hour interview focused on Russia’s recent actions in Ukraine, but Putin didn’t miss any opportunities to take pot shots at the US. “There are basically no Russian troops abroad while US troops are everywhere. There are US military bases everywhere around the world and they are always involved in the fates of other countries, even though they are thousands of kilometers away from US borders. So it is ironic that our US partners accuse us of breaching some of these rules.”
He also criticized American hysteria about the status of gay rights in Russia. Referring to the law banning the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relations among minors,” which the Russian government considers “harmful to children’s health and development,” he said that “[In the US] homosexuality is illegal in some states. We impose no criminal liability whatsoever. We banned only promoting homosexuality among minors. It is our right to protect our children and we will do it.”
Putin is newly single, having finalized his divorce in March.