Putin vacationing shirtless in Siberia mountains

A week after telling the U.S. to shed its embassy staff in Russia, President Vladimir Putin has shed his shirt and braved the cold waters on a spearfishing vacation in southern Siberia's mountains.

Putin stripped to the waist in a serious of photos that mark the latest shirtless photo-op by the Russian leader, who likes to cultivate an image of an adventure-loving man of action.

Footage released Saturday by Russian state television showed Putin steering an inflatable boat and fishing bare-chested with a rod in a mountain lake, accompanied by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and other officials.

It also showed Putin fishing underwater with a spear gun. Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the president spent two hours hunting a pike before finally getting it.

Putin has frequently engaged in action stunts since taking the helm in 2000, flying combat jets, riding horses and fishing bare-chested. He also accompanied a flock of cranes on a hang glider, shot a tiger with a tranquilizer gun and released leopards into a wildlife sanctuary.

Last Sunday Putin said the U.S. would have to cut its embassy and consulate staff in Russia by 755, heightening tensions between Washington and Moscow three days after the U.S. Congress approved sanctions against Russia.

In response, the U.S. State Department deemed it "a regrettable and uncalled for act."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.