G7 leaders poke fun at Russian President's tough image

Putin has, in the past, ridden a horse bare-chested, shot a tiger with a tranquillizer gun

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Published: Sun 26 Jun 2022, 5:02 PM

Last updated: Sun 26 Jun 2022, 5:12 PM

World leaders mocked Russian President Vladimir Putin’s tough-man image at a G7 lunch in Germany on Sunday, joking about whether they should strip down to shirtsleeves — or even less.

“Jackets on? Jackets off? Do we take our coats off?” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked as he sat down at the table in Bavaria’s picturesque Elmau Castle, where Chancellor Olaf Scholz was hosting the summit of seven powerful democracies.

The leaders — from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and the European Union — pondered the dilemma.

Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, suggested they wait for the official picture before disrobing but then Johnson quipped “We have to show that we’re tougher than Putin” and the joke kept rolling.

“We’re going to get the bare-chested horseback riding display,” Trudeau said, referring to Putin’s infamous 2009 photo-op of himself riding shirtless on a horse.

“Horseback riding is the best,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, without apparently weighing in on the clothing issue itself.

Johnson interjected: “We’ve got to show them our pecs.”

The leaders posed — jackets on — for photos before reporters were hustled out of the room, leaving the sartorial debate behind closed doors.


Russia's president has over the years relished appearing with animals in stage-managed media events. Putin has ridden a horse bare-chested, petted a polar bear, flown a motorized hang glider with cranes and shot a tiger with a tranquillizer gun to tag it with a GPS collar.

Russia's attack of Ukraine and its consequences are a focus of this year's G7 summit.

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