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‘Horseback riding is the best’: G7 leaders mock Putin’s macho image

The leaders of the world’s seven most industrialized nations mocked Russian President Vladimir Putin’s tough-guy image on Sunday, after arriving for the G7 summit in the German Alps.

As they sat down for a meeting in a warm room, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked: “Jackets on? Jackets off? Can we take our clothes off?” before adding: “We all have to show that we’re tougher than Putin.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joked: “We’re going to get the bare-chested horseback riding display.” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who attended the G7 because the EU is technically a “non-enumerated” member, then jumped in, saying: “Oh yes. Horseback riding is the best.” Johnson added, “We’ve got to show them our pecs.”

The leaders were referencing a series of infamous photoshoots released regularly by the Kremlin in which an often-shirtless Putin rides on horseback, fishes and swims in icy waters.

But despite the lighthearted moment, the specter of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is hovering over the three-day G7 summit in Schloss Elmau, which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address on Monday morning via videolink.

As world leaders were gearing up for their meeting in Bavaria, Kyiv endured the heaviest bombing it has seen in weeks, with Russian missiles hitting residential buildings and a kindergarten in the Ukrainian capital, injuring six and killing one person, according to Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko.

It’s not the first time Putin has bombarded Ukraine during a key moment on the world stage.

Russia struck Lviv in March as U.S. President Joe Biden delivered a major speech in Warsaw in which he declared Putin “cannot remain in power.” In April, Putin launched a bombing attack on Kyiv barely an hour after U.N. chief António Guterres held a press conference with Zelenskyy in the capital.

Russia was kicked out of the G8 following its annexation of Crimea in 2014. 

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