Liz Truss has rejected Boris Johnson’s suggestion that Vladimir Putin would not have invaded Ukraine if he were a woman.
Boris Johnson said Putin’s aggression towards his neighbour was a “perfect example of toxic masculinity” as he called for more women to be promoted to positions of power.
But the foreign secretary appeared to distance herself from Johnson’s remarks this morning, telling Times Radio that women were also capable of “terrible and appalling acts”.
“He [Vladimir Putin] clearly is capable of very, very evil acts,” she said.
“I don’t pretend that I can conduct a psychological analysis on him, nor do I think it’s helpful.”
Asked if female leaders are less aggressive, Truss said: “I think that both women and men are capable of terrible and appalling acts.”
Johnson criticised Putin’s “crazy, macho” invasion of Ukraine at the G7 Summit in Bavaria on Wednesday.
A photo of the G7 leaders posing at the summit was widely criticised on social media because not one the elected leaders is a woman.
Speaking to German broadcaster ZDF after the G7 Summit in Bavaria, Johnson said: “If Putin were a woman – which he obviously isn’t – but if he were, I really don’t think he would have embarked on a crazy, macho war of invasion and violence in the way that he has.
“If you want a perfect example of toxic masculinity, it’s what he’s doing in Ukraine.”
The leaders also joked about posing topless in an apparent swipe at Putin’s penchant for appearing bare-chested while out hunting.
According to reports, the prime minister sparked laughter when he told his fellow G7 leaders: “We all have to show that we’re tougher than Putin,” adding: “Show them our pecs”.
The joke triggered an angry response from the Russian president.
“I don’t know how they wanted to get undressed, above or below the waist,” he said. “But I think it would be a disgusting sight in any case,” he told reporters during a visit to Turkmenistan.