Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has spoken of her wariness of Vladamir Putin from her first dealings with the Russian president, describing him as a “notorious misogynist” and “stone cold killer”.
In an interview with The Late Late Show on RTÉ One, which was filmed in Belfast during the week, Ms Clinton said there was “unimpeachable evidence” that Mr Putin tasked the Russian intelligence unit, the GRU, “with doing everything it could in an information active measures warfare way to bring me down” in her presidential campaign.
She said it was clear to her that Mr Putin “had a messianic complex about restoring Russia’s greatness to make him the tsar. I was very wary and sceptical of him from the beginning. He knew I had his measure and was determined that I would never be president.”
Describing Mr Putin as “a notorious misogynist”, she said it was evident in the way “he treated any woman leader, including myself”. Referring to a 2007 diplomatic incident, Ms Clinton recalled “Angela Merkel was the chancellor of Germany, for heaven’s sake, and he knew that she had a fear rooted in childhood of big dogs. So having a meeting and have a conversation [with her] he brought a gigantic dog in to the meeting just to intimidate and undermine her. And to create an uncomfortable situation for her.
“He is an expert on what we call manspreading. He is also into mansplaining. He is somebody who treats everyone with contempt but he has particular dismissiveness toward women.”
More significantly, she said: “His track record of killing his opponents, of imprisoning them and encouraging them to be killed within the prison and his attempted failed murder plot against Navalny, all of that showed he was fundamentally a man filled with insecurity and fear who found meaning and purpose and fed his narcissism by lashing out at people.”
Speaking about US president Joe Biden’s trip to Ireland this month she agreed with a proposition put to her by host Ryan Tubridy that criticism of the visit was unfair. Tubridy had said the visit was seen as “hokey” in certain quarters. Ms Clinton said this mindset was “cynical”.
“First of all we [Ireland and the US] have all these familial connections and they are tangled and complicated. My husband’s mother’s maiden name was Cassidy. We saw president Biden with both sides of his family having ancestral roots.
“I don’t remember the exact number but something like 40-50 million Americans trace their ancestry to the island of Ireland. A lot of the traditions and the heritage has been kept alive. But at the end of the day you have to figure out how to live in the present world and to make a difference for the future.”
Ms Clinton was in Belfast with her husband, former US president Bill Clinton, to mark 25 years of the Belfast Agreement.
She said it was “thrilling” for her to see how people in the North said, “Enough, we can’t keep living like this.” However, she emphasised that important work still needed to be carried out in the North.
“There is a lot of deprivation. It cuts across both communities. It is not one community that is free of economic security. The education systems are still separate. So there is still a lot of work to be done.”