Shortly after being relieved of her duties as Secretary of State, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton reportedly gave a series of speeches in which she described Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “very interesting conversationalist” who she had gotten to know, including a visit to his “private inner sanctum” to discuss wildlife conservation.
In paid remarks to private groups, Clinton boasted of having a personal relationship with Putin, according to excerpts released by the organization Wikileaks this weekend. Democratic operatives, including vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, have neither confirmed nor denied the authenticity of the Wikileaks document.
In a speech to the Jewish United Fund Of Metropolitan Chicago in October 2013, the Wikileaks document cites Clinton as telling a story of bonding with Putin over the conservation of tiger populations.
“I said, ‘You know, Mr. Prime Minister, we actually have some things in common. We both want to protect wildlife, and I know how committed you are to protecting the tiger,’” Clinton reportedly told the audience. “I mean, all of a sudden, he sat up straight and his eyes got big and he goes, ‘You care about the tiger? I said, ‘I care about the tiger, I care about the elephant, I care about the rhinoceros, I care about the whale.’”
Then, she said, Putin invited her to what she described as his “private inner sanctum.”
“So we go down the stairs, we go down this long hall, we go into this private inner sanctum. All of his, you know, very beefy security guys are there, they all jump up at attention, you know, they punch a code, he goes through a heavily-armed door,” she reportedly narrated. “And then we’re in an inner, inner sanctum with, you know, just this long, wooden table, and then further back, there’s a desk and the biggest map of Russia I ever saw. And he starts talking to me about, you know, the habitat of the tigers and the habitat of the seals and the whales.”
Earlier that year, Clinton reportedly dismissed the possibility of Putin’s military buildup being a threat to the United States. “I last saw [Putin] in Vladivostok where I represented President Obama in September for the Asia Pacific economic community,” she allegedly said in remarks at Sanford Bernstein. “I sat next to him. He’s an engaging and, you know, very interesting conversationalist.”
“We talked about a lot of issues that were not the hot-button issues between us, you know, his view on missile defense, which we think is misplaced because, you know, we don’t believe that there will be a threat from Russia,” she continued.
Clinton reportedly discussed the possibility of a “more positive” relationship with Putin.
“And finally on Afghanistan and Russia. Look, I would love it if we could continue to build a more positive relationship with Russia,” she reportedly said in a June 2013 speech to Goldman Sachs, claiming that Russia was “helpful” in Afghanistan. In that same speech, Clinton said that, while Putin was “asserting himself in a way now that is going to take some management on our side,” she still hoped the U.S. could “have a positive relationship with Russia.”
At the time, Putin had “asserted himself” in Georgia five years previous, usurping parts of the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and had reportedly begun planning for the subsequent invasion and colonization of Ukraine.