A spokesman for Vladimir Putin said the assertion this week by Robert Kraft that the New England Patriots owner didn't give the Russian President his 2005 Super Bowl ring as a gift is "weird."
At a gala at the Waldorf-Astoria on Thursday, Kraft said Putin apparently was impressed enough with the diamond-encrusted ring that he just decided to keep it. He tried it on, slipped it in his pocket and off he went.
Kraft wanted the ring back. Still does. But said a Russian security force was around Putin and ushered him away. Later, Kraft was contacted by the White House and was advised as a diplomatic gesture not to ask for the return of the $25,000 ring.
"I took out the ring and showed it to him, and he put it on and he goes, 'I can kill someone with this ring,'" Kraft said this week, according to a story in the New York Post. "I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket, and three KGB guys got around him and walked out."
A spokeman for Putin told CNN on Sunday said the ring was definitely a gift.
"What Mr. Kraft is saying now is weird," said Dmitry Peskov. "I was standing 20 centimeters away from him and Mr. Putin and saw and heard how Mr. Kraft gave this ring as a gift."
The dispute stems from when Kraft was visiting St. Petersburg, Russia, with a group of businessmen in 2005 when the ring changed hands. It is now supposedly housed in the Kremlin library.
"I had an emotional tie to the ring," Kraft said, "it has my name on it. I don't want to see it on eBay. There was a pause on the other end of the line (at the White House), and the voice repeated, 'It would really be in the best interest if you meant to give the ring as a present.'"
So Kraft issued a statement back then saying "I showed the president my most recent Super Bowl ring. He was clearly taken with its uniqueness ... at that point, I decided to give him the ring as a symbol of the respect and admiration that I have for the Russian people and the leadership of President Putin."
Now we know that wasn't true. It was a Patriot act of diplomacy by the Patriots owner.