(CNSNews.com) – Russian President Vladimir Putin took a dig at America’s military prowess – and filmmaking abilities – at the weekend, calling a movie scenario farfetched because it portrays U.S. military personnel penetrating a Russian naval base.
He also fired a barb at Ukraine, whose navy was involved in a clash with Russian ships in the Kerch Strait linking the Black and Azov Seas a week earlier.
Speaking to reporters following the G20 summit in Argentina, Putin was asked about the recently-released movie, Hunter Killer, in which U.S. Navy SEALS and submarine crew rescue an imprisoned Russian president and prevent a coup leader from sparking World War III.
As colleagues smirked, a reporter for the Russian daily Kommersant provided Putin with a synopsis.
“In short, the Russian president is taken hostage at an Arctic base, and this was done by the defense minister, who leads the coup,” he explained. “And the Russian president is being rescued by the commander of a U.S. submarine that penetrated the base.”
“Our base?” asked Putin.
“Our base, of course,” the reporter replied. “Our Arctic base.”
Putin said that alone made the scenario improbable.
“Two small naval boats – gifts from the United States to the Ukrainians – could not pass through the Kerch Strait,” he said with a slight smile. “And you want a U.S. sub to enter our base? Sounds like a bad film.”
(Hunter Killer, which stars Gerard Butler in the lead role, went on circuit in Russia last month a week later than the scheduled premiere, after officials apparently tried to block the release.)
On November 25, the Russian navy opened fire on and seized two Ukrainian armored artillery boats and a naval tug, ramming one in the process. The Ukrainian vessels had been trying to steam through the Kerch Strait, which lies between Russian territory and Russian-occupied Ukraine, to reach ports in south-eastern Ukraine.
Russia, which continues to hold the vessels and 24 Ukrainian sailors, said the ships had tried to breach Russia’s maritime borders in a deliberate provocation.
Earlier in the press conference in Buenos Aires, Putin said he assumed a scheduled meeting with President Trump on the G20 sidelines had been canceled because of what had happened in the Kerch Strait.
Despite its cancelation, he said he had still had a brief exchange with Trump, and had “answered his questions on the Black Sea incident.”
“He has his own stance on these issues and problems, and I have my own,” Putin added. “We remained unconvinced, but in any case, I informed him about our vision of the incident.”
Putin broadened his attack on Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, questioning his decision to declare martial law for 30 days in ten regions of Ukraine, most of them adjacent to Russian-controlled territory.
He accused Poroshenko of using martial law to limit civil freedoms and political activity in the run-up to presidential elections next March, and said the areas where martial law is being implemented are parts of the country where his policies lack support.
Defense Secretary James Mattis, speaking at an event at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California on Saturday, slammed Russian for what he called its “brazen contempt” for and violation of a 2003 bilateral agreement that allows Russian and Ukrainian ships free passage through the Kerch Strait.
Asked what the U.S. could do to deter Russia’s behavior, Mattis said the situation was a complex one, “because Mr. Putin is clearly a slow learner.”
“He is not recognizing that what he is doing is actually creating the animosity against his people,” he said. “He’s not acting in the best interest of the Russian people, and he is actually causing NATO to rearm and to strengthen the democracy stance – the unified stance of all the democracies together.”
As seen in actions like the violation of the Kerch Strait agreement, Mattis said, “we are dealing with someone that we simply cannot trust."