POLITICS: PennAve

Obama would 'absolutely' save Vladimir Putin from drowning

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Politics,White House,Barack Obama,Russia,PennAve,Vladimir Putin,Meghashyam Mali,Foreign Policy,Ukraine

President Obama on Friday said that he would rescue Russian President Vladimir Putin if he was drowning -- responding to a question about the relationship between the two world leaders.

“I absolutely would save Mr. Putin if he were drowning. I'd like to think that if anybody is out there drowning, I'm going to save them,” said Obama at a joint press conference with South Korean President Park Geun-Hye in Seoul.

Obama added that he grew up in Hawaii, where he “used to be a pretty good swimmer.”

Obama and Putin's difficult relationship has hit a new low after Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and with pro-Russian separatists clashing with the new government in Kiev.

In an interview last week, Putin was asked if he thought Obama would save him if he was drowning.

“I don’t think I have close personal relationship with Obama. I think Obama is a courageous and good person and he would for sure save me,” Putin responded, according to reports.

Obama on Friday, though, also pressed the Russian leader to find a way to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine.

The president said he believed Putin would make the right choice for Russia — aware that further sanctions from the U.S. and international community would hurt Moscow.

“Tens of billions of dollars of capital fleeing Russia poses a problem for Russia’s long-term interests. Russia being isolated so that no businessman or woman with any sense are going to want to invest there — that's a problem for Russia’s long-term interests,” said Obama.

“President Putin is not a stupid man and I think recently acknowledged that this has already had an impact,” he continued.

In a call late Friday with European leaders, Obama and his counterparts pledged to work together to impose further costs on Russia if it failed to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine.

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