Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested the former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is "weak" in an interview with French media, but added this was not necessarily a bad trait for women to display.
Putin was speaking Tuesday during an interview with reporters from France's Radio Europe 1 and TV TF, when he was asked to comment on remarks made by Clinton likening his defense of the annexation of Crimea to that employed by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
"It's better not to argue with women. But Ms Clinton has never been too graceful in her statements," Putin was quoted as saying in a transcript published on the Kremlin website.
"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 added in the interview.
Clinton's controversial comments were made during a speech in March, when she equated Putin's justification of Russia's actions in Crimea to the rhetoric employed by Hitler in the 1930s.
"The claims by Putin that they had to go into Crimea, because they had to protect Russian minorities, is reminiscent of claims that were made back in the 1930's," she told University of California students.
"Germany, under the Nazis claimed they had to protect German minorities in Czechoslovakia," she said.
She later qualified the statement by saying she had not intended to make a comparison between the two men but had wanted to say lessons could be learned from history, Reuters reported.
While Putin seems to have taken the Hitler comparison with a pinch of salt — noting he may one day laugh at the remark — he was quick to criticize the U.S. for their own foreign policy during Tuesday's interview, which was conducted in Sochi.
"Speaking of U.S. policy, it is clear that the U.S. 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 said.
"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," Putin said according to the Kremlin statement.
A Clinton spokesman did not immediately reply to a request to comment on Putin's remarks, the Washington Post reported.