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Boris Johnson says ‘toxic masculinity’ is behind Putin’s war

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Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Alexander Shcherbak/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Alexander Shcherbak/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Alexander Shcherbak/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

What’s to blame for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine? In part, Russian president Vladimir Putin’s “toxic masculinity” – according to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in remarks that triggered a dose of sarcasm from the Kremlin and apparent approval from other world leaders.

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,” Mr Johnson told German broadcaster ZDF, adding that “if you want a perfect example of toxic masculinity, it’s what he [Putin] is doing in Ukraine”.

Russia fired back yesterday. “Old Freud during his lifetime would have dreamed of such an object for research,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti. He referred to Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud, who founded psychoanalysis and had several controversial theories about masculinity.

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon, when asked about Mr Johnson’s comments on the British television show Good Morning Britain, said she did “unusually perhaps, agree” with his comments regarding women in politics.

Ms Sturgeon  called Putin a “war criminal” and went on to say that “the world would be a better place if there were more women in positions of leadership”.

“I think it is important we don’t generalise,” she said. “Women make mistakes as well as men make mistakes. But I do think women tend to bring more common sense and emotional intelligence and reasoned approach.”

Mr Johnson’s comments came just days after he and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joked about going shirtless to threaten Putin with “our pecs” during the opening of the Group of Seven summit in Germany.

Putin’s tough-guy image, experts say, has been a central part of building Russia’s reputation on the world stage as influential and authoritarian.

Since the earliest days of his presidency, Russia’s leader has often been snapped in an array of commanding poses, including shirtless on horseback. 

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