President Obama is now in a leadership showdown with Russian President Vladimir Putin over his recent actions in Ukraine, but just last month, he tried to insert levity into their relationship.

During an interview with NBC’s Bob Costas, Obama denied having an "icy" relationship with the Russian president.

“I wouldn't call it icy," Obama said. "The truth of the matter is that when we are in meetings there are a lot of exchanges, there's a surprising amount of humor, and a lot of give and take."

Obama added that he thought Putin's demeanor was part of an act to impress his country's citizens.

"My sense is that's part of his shtick back home politically, as wanting to look like the tough guy," he said. "U.S. politicians have a different style. We tend to smile once in a while."

On Saturday, Obama and Putin spoke for 90 minutes about the situation in Ukraine.

According to the White House, Obama signaled “deep concern” during the call for Russia’s “violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity."