Russian President Vladimir Putin would not have started the military offensive in Ukraine if he was a woman, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said during the G 7 leaders summit in Germany.
The statement about gender and triggered an immediate reaction from Putin who reminded Johnson of ex-British PM Margaret Thatcher's military operation in the South Atlantic following the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands.
If Putin was a woman, which he obviously isn't, but if he were, I really don't think he would've embarked on a crazy, macho war of invasion and violence in the way that he has, Johnson told German broadcaster ZDF on Tuesday evening.
Putin's offensive on Ukraine is a perfect example of toxic masculinity, he said, calling for better education for girls around the world and for more women in positions of power.
Putin, speaking in the Turkmenistan capital of Ashgabat, dismissed Johnson's comments as incorrect.
”I'd like to point to events in modern history when (former British prime minister) Margaret Thatcher decided to launch an offensive against Argentina for control of the Falkland Islands in 1982, he said.
There, is the example of a woman who decided on a war, which ended in British victory the same year, the Russian leader said.
The UK leader also joked that his allies should take their clothes off for the photoshoot - to show that they are tougher than Putin, in reference to the Russian leader's pictures of him on horseback and hunring bears, and in a diver's capsule.
I don't know how they wanted to undress, waist-high or not, but I think it would be a disgusting sight either way, the Russian president quipped. Everything should be harmoniously developed in a person, both the body and the soul. However, in order for everything to be harmonious, one has to abandon excessive drinking and break other bad habits, start exercising, take up a sport.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov also responded to Johnson's comments by telling state news agency RIA Novosti that good old (psychoanalyst Sigmund) Freud would have loved having in his lifetime such a subject for his research.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, meanwhile, accused Johnson of harbouring sweaty fantasies.
What have the 7 been doing together? she wrote on messaging app Telegram, referring to a recent gathering of the Group of Seven leaders in Germany.
During the ZDF interview, the British prime minister also acknowledged that of course people want the war to end, but for the moment there's no deal available. Putin isn't making an offer of peace”.
Western allies must support Ukraine to enable it to be in the best possible strategic position in the event that peace negotiations with Moscow do become possible, he added.