Playground insults appear to be the latest military development to come out of the war in Ukraine, as Vladimir Putin tells Western leaders they would look “disgusting,” shirtless. Do you need some ice for that burn, G7?
“I don’t know how they wanted to get undressed, above or below the waist. But I think it would be a disgusting sight in any case,” the Russian leader said during a visit to Turkmenistan.
He’s not wrong.
Putin’s feelings had clearly been hurt earlier in the week after Western leaders mocked the Russian president’s carefully cultivated macho persona, particularly all those photo-ops of him riding bare-chested, topless fishing and hunting bears.
Not only did Boris Johnson describe Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as a “perfect example of toxic masculinity,” during the NATO summit in Madrid, he also proposed at the G7 summit that leaders “show [their] pecs,” to “show that we’re tougher than Putin.”(What the classically-educated British PM failed to mention was that Catherine the Great was one of Russia’s most ambitious and feminine of monarchs, invading both Crimea and Ukraine centuries ago.)
The ever ambitious Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, went one step further than Johnson. He suggested the G7 leaders match Putin’s favourite outdoorsy pastime, with a “bare-chested horseback riding display” of their own.
This would be a sight to behold – though admittedly a strange one. Perhaps they should refrain from showing Putin their “guns” and instead send more real ones to Ukraine.
To rub salt in the wound, Putin even went holier than thou, suggesting Western leaders “stop abusing alcohol and other bad habits, do physical exercise and take part in sports.”
To be fair to Putin, he is 69 years old and still knows his way around an ice hockey rink. He told Emmanuel Macron in February that he’d rather be playing hockey than meeting Joe Biden for peace talks. Who wouldn’t.
In any case, the G7’s leaders are now no doubt huddled around the climbing frame trying to think of a comeback: “Well Vlad, you’re not coming to my party,” perhaps?