Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested in an interview this week that Hillary Rodham Clinton is "weak," adding that the former secretary of state "has never been too graceful in her statements."
Putin was responding to a question from French journalists about Clinton's remarks in March likening Putin's aggression in Ukraine to the actions of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler leading up to World War II.
"It’s better not to argue with women," Putin said. "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."
Putin's comments came in an interview with France's Radio Europe1 and TV TF1. The interview took place Tuesday in Sochi, Russia, as Putin prepared for a visit to France. The Kremlin released an English transcript of the interview on Wednesday.
A Clinton spokesman did not immediately reply to a request to comment on Putin's remarks.
Putin's critique comes as Clinton, who is weighing a campaign for president in 2016, prepares a multi-week national book tour and media blitz to promote her new memoir, "Hard Choices," which hits shelves next Tuesday.
In March, Clinton made the provocative comparison between Putin and Hitler at a private fundraiser in California. According to the Long Beach Press-Telegram, she compared Putin's move to provide Russian passports to people with Russian connections living elsewhere in Eastern Europe to Hitler's aggressive protection of ethnic Germans in the run-up to World War II.
"Now if this sounds familiar, it's what Hitler did back in the '30s," Clinton said, according to the Press-Telegram.
The next day, Clinton stood by her comments and said she was not making a "comparison." She added that Putin's goal is to "re-Sovietize Russia's periphery," and called the Russian leader "a tough guy with a thin skin."
In his interview this week, Putin was asked whether he thought Clinton "went too far" and whether he was "angry" or if her comments provoked a "laugh."
"Someday I will indulge myself and we will laugh together at some good joke," Putin said. "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."
Putin added, "There are basically no Russian troops abroad while U.S. troops are everywhere. There are U.S. 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 U.S. borders. So it is ironic that our U.S. partners accuse us of breaching some of these rules."