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Despite the story being told by the owner of the New England Patriots, a spokesperson for Vladimir Putin continues to insist that Robert Kraft's pilfered Super Bowl ring really was a gift and he's not about to give it back.

Kraft recently began confirming a long-simmering rumor that Putin simply walked away with his Super Bowl XXXIX champion ring after the NFL owner let him try it on during a meeting in Moscow in 2005. While the whole thing may or may not have been an honest misunderstanding between two guys who don't speak each other's language, Kraft also says he was pressured by the Bush White House to let the incident go and allow the $25,000 one-of-a-kind ring to officially stay in Russia as a gift. Kraft told a crowd during the recent speech that he wasn't really trying to give it away, and then the New York Post spread to the story far and wide prompting Moscow to respond.

On Sunday, Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov says that's Kraft's story crazy and of course it was a gift from a big fan:

"What Mr. Kraft is saying now is weird. I was standing 20 centimeters away from him and Mr. Putin and saw and heard how Mr. Kraft gave this ring as a gift."

Twenty centimeters is pretty close (perhaps he was in Rupert Murdoch's pocket?), but what else is a Putin ally going to say? For his part, Kraft is also trying to play down the "theft" angle. A spokesman for the billionaire now says the whole thing is just a funny story he likes to tell at parties, and that Kraft "loves that the ring is at the Kremlin," because why not? How many other NFL owners can say that?

It seems Kraft is doing is part to not upset the delicate balance of international relations, which is probably a good idea after the whole "we've been spying on your president" thing. We guess he really is a true "patriot." (Sorry.)

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