The Kremlin expressed disappointment Thursday at an advertisement by Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump that it says demonizes Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Russia. Moscow said that the 15-second clip, which is aimed at showing Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton as weak, and shows Putin throwing a martial arts opponent to the ground, is a U.S. tradition that it deeply regrets.
"It is common knowledge that demonization of Russia - let me put it this way - and everything related with it is regrettably a mandatory attribute of the U.S. election campaign," presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news site TASS, also noting that he wasn't sure if Putin had seen the advert. "We always regret this. We would like election processes to proceed without such allusions to our country."
The advert, which has been shared more than 2.3 million times online since Trump posted it on his Facebook page, opens with large white writing that says “when it comes to facing our toughest opponents,” before cutting to Putin slamming his opponent to the ground and then an Islamic State fighter pointing a gun at the camera. The clip then shows more white writing that says “the Democrats have the perfect answer,” then cuts to showing Clinton barking like a dog and then Putin laughing. The last part of the video shows writing that says “we don’t need to be a punchline.”
The Clinton footage is from a campaign rally in Nevada earlier this year, where she barked in order to describe a radio advert she heard while in Arkansas.
The use of Putin in the advert may come as a surprise to some given that Trump had heaped praise on the Russian leader late last year, describing him as a “leader,” pointing to his high favorability ratings. "He's running his country and at least he's a leader, unlike what we have in this country," Trump told "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough. In response, Putin called Trump “bright and talented.”