A sculpture of Vladimir Putin riding a miniature tank popped up in New York’s Central Park — and was quickly targeted by kids

Children play by a statue of Russian President Vladimir Putin riding a tank created by French artist James Colomina in Central Park in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 2, 2022.Andrew Kelly/Reuters

  • A bright red sculpture of Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared in Central Park this week.

  • Kids quickly embraced the installation, covering it with sand and aiming their water guns at it.

  • The sculpture was placed by a French artist in protest of the war in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was spotted riding a tiny tank in New York’s Central Park this week and was swiftly swarmed by kids — or at least, a statue of him was.

The Putin sculpture was created by French artist James Colomina and placed in a playground inside the Manhattan park, according to the artist’s Instagram.

A child pours sand on a statue  of Russian President Vladimir Putin riding a tank created by French artist James Colomina in Central Park in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 2, 2022.

A child pours sand on a statue of Russian President Vladimir Putin riding a tank created by French artist James Colomina in Central Park in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 2, 2022.Andrew Kelly/Reuters

The bright red sculpture shows the Russian leader seated atop a miniature military tank in an almost childlike squat.

“This sculpture aims at denouncing the absurdity of war and at highlighting children’s courage when faced with violent, catastrophic situations triggered by others,” Colomina wrote alongside photos of his work.

A child points a water pistol at a statue of Russian President Vladimir Putin riding a tank created by French artist James Colomina in Central Park in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 2, 2022.

A child points a water pistol at a statue of Russian President Vladimir Putin riding a tank created by French artist James Colomina in Central Park in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 2, 2022.Andrew Kelly/Reuters

The artist is known for bright red sculptures that often pop up unannounced in public places. Additional photos show identical Putin sculptures in Paris and Spain.

Photos of the sculpture in New York showed kids quickly embracing their new playmate by covering him with sand and aiming their water guns at him.

Children put sand on a statue of Russian President Vladimir Putin riding a tank created by French artist James Colomina in Central Park in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 2, 2022.

Children put sand on a statue of Russian President Vladimir Putin riding a tank created by French artist James Colomina in Central Park in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 2, 2022.Andrew Kelly/Reuters

The Manhattan installation comes nearly six months since Russia launched an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and as the fighting continues, especially in the eastern part of the country.

It’s unclear if the sculptures have been brought to the attention of Putin, who goes to great lengths to curate a public perception of himself as strong and manly: The Russian leader’s famous photoshoots have featured him shirtless on horseback and posing majestically in the outdoors.

A child points a water pistol at a statue of Russian President Vladimir Putin riding a tank by French artist James Colomina in a playground in Central Park in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 2, 2022.

A child points a water pistol at a statue of Russian President Vladimir Putin riding a tank by French artist James Colomina in a playground in Central Park in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 2, 2022.Andrew Kelly/Reuters

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