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Obama: Putin has a tough guy 'shtick'

President Obama discussed his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and security for the Winter Sochi Olympics with NBC's Bob Costas.
President Barack Obama speaks during an event, Feb. 4, 2014, in Adelphi, Md.
President Barack Obama speaks during an event, Feb. 4, 2014, in Adelphi, Md.

President Obama is dismissing notions that his relationship with Vladimir Putin is "icy" cold. If anything, Obama said, his Russian counterpart's "tough guy" demeanor is just a "shtick" from back home.

"U.S. politicians have a different style," Obama said in an interview Thursday with NBC's Bob Costas. "We tend to smile once in a while."

The two leaders' relationship has seemed somewhat strained recently with tensions over Syria sanctions and President Obama's response to the Russian government's laws that hinder the rights of the gay community. President Obama recently snubbed the anti-gay laws by appointing two openly gay delegates to attend the 2014 Winter Olympic Games being held in Sochi, Russia.

"There is no doubt we wanted to make it very clear that we do not abide by discrimination in anything, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and one of the wonderful things about the Olympics is that you are judged by your merit," the president said.

Costas asked about security with the Olympics after U.S. officials issued travel warnings following terrorist threats and suicide bombings in Russia. On Thursday, the TSA issued a ban aerosols, gels, powders, and liquids in carry-on bags for flights from the U.S. to Russia during the Olympic Games, which kick off with the Opening Ceremony Friday. The president replied that the U.S. is in "constant communications" with Russia.

"I think the Russians have an enormous stake, obviously, in preventing any kind of terrorist attack or violence at venues," the president said Thursday. "They have put a lot of resources into it. We’re in constant communications with them, both at the law enforcement level, at the military level, at the intelligence levels."

The full interview will air during the opening ceremonies broadcast Friday night on NBC.