Johnson, Trudeau at G-7 joke about going shirtless and showing Putin ‘our pecs’

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TELFS, Austria – Vladimir Putin was not in the room when the leaders of the Group of Seven gathered in the Bavarian Alps. But the Russian president remained very much on the minds of the leaders – even during a discussion about appropriate clothing for a group photo.

Hours after President Biden said the G-7 countries would announce a ban on new imports of Russian gold in an effort to further punish Putin for invading Ukraine, Western leaders joked on the opening day of the G-7. top on how she could intimidate Putin in an unconventional way.

“Jackets on? Jackets off? Shall we take off our clothes?” asked Prime Minister Boris Johnson, ostensibly wondering how the leaders should dress for an unofficial photo before their luncheon meeting began.

“We all have to show that we are stronger than Putin,” the British leader joked at the prime location in Schloss Elmau, Germany.

Putin was expelled from the group in 2014 after Russia invaded and annexed Ukraine’s Crimean region.

“We’re going to have a bare-chested horse show,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joked, referring to the Russian president’s penchant for distributing photos of himself outdoors — sometimes shirtless, including on horseback.

“There you go! There you go! We have to show them our pecs!” Johnson added.

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From arm wrestling to martial arts, Putin’s hobbies were to put physical strength and power at the center of his personal brand.

Over the years, the Russian leader has often been photographed posing with his torso in full screen, fodder for a series of online memes.

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A photo shoot in 2009 showed a shirtless Putin on a horse in the mountains. More outdoor-themed photos appeared in 2018, showing Putin stripped to his waist and fishing in a Siberian lake. There were pictures of Putin the swimmer and Putin the sunbather.

When asked by a reporter in 2018 about his fondness for “half-naked” photos, Putin defended the collection of photos.

“When I’m on vacation, I don’t see the need to hide behind the bushes, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Putin told an Australian journalist.

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As Putin’s comments continued, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen made a stab at diplomacy on Sunday, shifting the conversation from teasing the Russian leader to an enthusiastic endorsement of equestrian sport.

“Ah, yes,” she said. “However, horseback riding is the best!”

President Biden – who had been silent during the repartee – eventually, at the urging of his fellow leaders, turned his chair and smiled for the photo.

Biden chose to wear coats.