Hillary Clinton Calls Putin “Tough Guy With Thin Skin” in UCLA Visit

The former Secretary of State spoke about Russia's involvement in Ukraine and accused its president of attempting to "re-Sovietize Russia's periphery"

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton continued to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin during her two-day Southern California visit  by calling him a "tough guy with thin skin" in a talk Wednesday at UCLA.

Clinton delivered the third annual Luskin Lecture for Thought Leadership at UCLA's Royce Hall at noon. She participated in a question-answer session following the speech with UCLA political science professor Lynn Vavreck.

Past lectures have been delivered by her husband, former President Bill Clinton and former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. She also will accept the UCLA Medal, given to people whose works "illustrate the highest ideals of UCLA, and whose career has manifestly benefited the public," according to the university.

It was the second day in a row that Clinton took aim at Russia's involvement in Ukraine.

"I know we are dealing with a tough guy with a thin skin," Clinton told the crowd at UCLA's Royce Hall, citing her experiences with Putin during her time at the State Department. "I know that his political vision is of a greater Russia. I said when I was still secretary that his goal is to re-Sovietize Russia’s periphery, but in the process he is squandering the potential of such a great nation, the nation of Russia, and threatening instability and even the peace of Europe."

Clinton began her two-day visit to Southern California Tuesday by speaking at a $1,500-per-person luncheon fundraiser in Long Beach benefiting the Boys and Girls Club of Long Beach. She discussed Russia's military advance into Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and compared recent actions by Russian President Vladimir Putin to those implemented by Adolf Hitler in the late 1930s.

The Russian president's desire to protect minority Russians in Ukraine is reminiscent of Hitler's actions to  protect ethnic Germans outside Germany, she said, according to the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

Putin contends ethnic Russians in Ukraine need to be protected. Clinton said that's what Hitler did when he maintained ethnic Germans outside Germany in places such as Czechoslovakia and Romania were not being treated properly and needed to be protected, the newspaper reported.

"Now if this sounds familiar, it's what Hitler did back in the 30s," Clinton said, according to the report. "All the Germans that were... the ethnic Germans, the Germans by ancestry who were in places like Czechoslovakia and Romania and other places, Hitler kept saying, 'They're not being treated right. I must go and protect my people.' And that's what's gotten everybody so nervous."

The newspaper quoted Clinton as saying Putin is a man "who believes his mission is to restore Russian greatness."

"When he looks at Ukraine, he sees a place that he believes is by its very nature part of Mother Russia," she said at the private event.

Clinton stressed Wednesday that she was not making a comparison between Putin and Hitler.

"What I said yesterday was that the claims by President Putin and other Russians that they had to go into Crimea and maybe further into eastern Ukraine because they had to protect the Russian minorities -- that is reminiscent of claims that were made in the 1930s when Germany under the Nazis kept talking about how they had to protect German minorities in Poland and Czechoslovakia and elsewhere throughout Europe," Clinton said Wednesday. "I just want everybody to have a little historic perspective. I am not making a comparison, certainly, but I am recommending that we perhaps can learn from this tactic that has been used before."


Get Los Angeles's latest local news on crime, entertainment, weather, schools, COVID, cost of living and more. Here's your go-to source for today's LA news.

‘We Are Below Citizens': Man Accusing Costa Mesa Officer of Racial Profiling Shares Story

Charges Set to Be Filed Against Alec Baldwin in Connection to ‘Rust' Shooting

Clinton answered questions on a variety of subjects Tuesday, including her favorite flavor of Girl Scout cookie.

Her answer -- peanut butter.

Contact Us