When Russian President Vladimir Putin stands in front of a microphone for more than three hours, there’s no doubt he’ll use his time in the limelight to make as many inflammatory remarks about his enemies — real or perceived — as possible.
And he didn’t disappoint Thursday during his annual marathon press conference that on other occasions has run for upwards of four hours. Last year, he took it upon himself to make an incredibly strange bear metaphor. As for this year — well, here are four of Foreign Policy’s favorite moments:
The Turks may have decided to lick the Americans in a certain place.
Last month, Turkey shot down a Russian jet it claimed was violating Turkish airspace. On Thursday, and without so much as a smirk, Putin found a particularly crude way of suggesting it wasn’t unreasonable to think Washington was in some way involved in the incident.
Asked by a reporter if an unidentified “third party” played a role in the tensions between Moscow and Ankara, Putin said he did not know for sure.
“But if someone in the Turkish government decided to lick the Americans in a certain place, well, I don’t know then, was that the right decision or not?” Putin said. He added: “I can imagine that on some level there were agreements that, ‘If we bring down the Russian plane, then you [United States] close your eyes to us to entering the territory of Iraq and will occupy part of it,’” Putin said.
Sepp Blatter should win the Nobel Peace Prize.
Sepp Blatter, the suspended FIFA president who is accused of corruption, is set to testify Thursday before his organization’s ethics committee. But even if the judges aren’t sympathetic to his pleas of innocence, Blatter’s got a friend in Moscow. A really good one.
Putin said Blatter “is a very respected person [who] has done a lot for the development of world soccer.”
“He has always tried to treat football not as a sport but as an element of cooperation between countries and peoples,” he added. “He is the one who must be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.”
This isn’t the first time Putin has made that suggestion. In July, he hinted more subtly that Blatter would make a good candidate for the Nobel.
Donald Trump is “outstanding” and “unquestionably talented.”
For months Republican presidential candidate and billionaire businessman Donald Trump has said he would get along better with Putin than Obama does (in part because Putin and Trump share a dislike for the Democrat president). “I think that I would probably get along with him very well,” Trump said of Putin in October. And in September, Trump awarded him an “A” for leadership.
Turns out the affection is mutual: Putin took Thursday’s opportunity to compliment Trump, calling him the frontrunner in the U.S. presidential race. “He is a very outstanding man, unquestionably talented,” Putin said. “He says that he wants a different level of relations, tighter and deeper relations with Russia, how can we not welcome that? Of course we welcome it.”
Russian personnel are in Ukraine.
Again and again, Russia has denied allegations it is militarily involved in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. But Putin admitted for the first time Thursday there are Russian military specialists on the ground there. “We never said there were not people there who carried out certain tasks including in the military sphere,” he claimed, insisting those forces are not regular Russian troops.
His statement was in response to a question about two captured Russian officers on trial in Ukraine.
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