Jun 19, 2007
RFE/RL: U.S. Representative Tom Lantos (Dem, CA), who is chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, told Reuters in Washington on June 18 that Putin's verbal "muscle flexing" with the West in recent months derives from massive oil and gas revenues, much as the muscle flexing of the cartoon character Popeye is the result of eating spinach. Lantos suggested Russian leaders are "eating the spinach of petroleum revenues, and the billions are flowing into the Kremlin, and with every billion...Putin's muscles bulge more powerfully."
Lantos, who is scheduled to meet with legislators from the State Duma on June 21, added Russia will probably become more cooperative when it becomes accustomed to its new-found wealth. Lantos nonetheless referred to Putin's recent threat to target Europe with missiles as "incredibly stupid," and cautioned him against again publicly comparing the United States to the Third Reich.