Putin Calls Kerry a Liar, As Awkward G20 Summit in Russia Continues
President Obama has finally arrived in Russia for the G20, which can only mean one thing: the stage is set for some majorly awkward interactions with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
So far, interactions have played out like the two are exes trying to get along. Upon their arrival, the two men reportedly shook hands, as Obama thanked Putin for hosting the summit and called his palace beautiful. (Did he also tell him he looked like he'd lost weight?) The short exchange will be the first of several interactions between the two leaders, but possibly the only one-on-one conversation the leaders will have, after Obama announced his refusal to meet with the Russian president.
Obama cancelled plans to meet Putin before the G-20 summit after Russia offered temporary asylum to National Security Agency-leaker Edward Snowden. Obama has also criticized the anti-gay laws Putin signed that prevent homosexual "propaganda," and will be meeting with LGBT activists in the country this week.
The two are also of course at odds over Syria, a Russian ally. Russia not only opposes a U.S. strike on Syria — it also supplies arms to the Assad regime.
On Wednesday, Putin took things a step further, and called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry a liar.
"This was very unpleasant and surprising for me. We talk to them (the Americans) and we assume they are decent people, but he is lying and he knows that he is lying. This is sad," Putin said.
Putin's comments were in reference to Kerry's testimony before the House Wednesday, when he said that the portion of rebels who are extremists represent only between 15 percent and 25 percent of the total opposition — a seemingly random estimate.
When asked about the allegation that Kerry lied about extremists among Syrian rebels, National Security Council spokesman Ben Rhodes responded that "Well, we certainly would side with Secretary Kerry in that back-and-forth."
According to Russian newspapers, summit organizers have prepared for the possibility of an awkward interaction by seating the two leaders as far apart as possible.