Vladimir Putin’s posture at the height of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis reveals a “paranoid” and isolated leader, say Western officials and analysts.
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The live meeting of the Russian Security Council on Monday, in the very solemn setting of the Kremlin, froze the whole world.
The Russian president, seated alone in front of a large table, questions the main security officials of his country, who parade one after the other in front of a desk, like students during a great oral.
“Do you propose to start a process of negotiation (…) or to recognize the sovereignty of the separatist republics in Ukraine,” he asks, with a wry smile, to the head of the Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergei Naryshkin.
“Speak clearly”, he launches to the interested party who started to stammer. “I will support the proposal” of recognition, then outlines Sergei Naryshkin. “I will support or I support (..) Yes or no?”, gets angry Vladimir Putin, humiliating this senior official live.
A few hours later, the master of the Kremlin delivers a flurry of speech to the nation denying the historical legitimacy of Ukraine and accusing NATO of wanting to use this country as a “springboard” to attack Russia. He ends it by recognizing the two self-proclaimed pro-Russian “republics” of Donbass.
Ukraine is an artificial creation of “Bolshevik and communist Russia”, he asserts, recalling that it is made up of “Russian lands”. “We are ready to show you what a real decommunization of Ukraine means,” he adds, threateningly.
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This country intends to engage in “military actions” against Russia with the help of Westerners and by acquiring nuclear weapons, accuses Vladimir Putin.
“The United States and NATO have begun shamelessly” to make Ukrainian territory a “theater of potential military operations” by sending contingents there and carrying out military maneuvers there, he further asserts.
“Paranoia”, “cynicism” … the reactions fuse, especially in Paris, where the aborted attempt at mediation by President Emmanuel Macron with his Russian counterpart is badly experienced.
“There was an extremely violent analysis, a little delusional or paranoid, but unfortunately constructed on the part of Vladimir Poutine (…) with many historical lies”, summarizes the French Secretary of State for European Affairs Clément Beaune.
screenshot | Reuters
During his trip to Moscow on February 7, Emmanuel Macron had already told journalists that he had found Vladimir Putin “steeper, more isolated, gone into a kind of drift both ideological and security”.
The Russian head of state is accustomed to live humiliations, as well as muscular geopolitical speeches, imbued with macho references.
“Everything he said on Monday, he had already said before,” notes Michel Eltchaninoff, author of “In the head of Vladimir Poutine”, who has been peeling his speeches for 20 years.
But this time, the dramatization was at its height, against a backdrop of the sound of boots in Ukraine and uncertainty about the Kremlin’s real intentions.
“The head of the Politburo of the 21st century is talking nonsense”, quipped on Facebook his main opponent, Alexeï Navalny, imprisoned since his return in January 2021 from Germany where he had been treated for poisoning.
Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel had already expressed some reservations about the mental universe of Vladimir Putin at the time of the annexation of Crimea by Russia and the start of the offensive of the pro-Russian separatists in the east of the Ukraine in 2014.
“He has lost all contact with reality (…) He is in another world,” she told President Barack Obama, according to comments reported by the American press.
“There is a mixture of rationality and total closure in relation to reality (…) a form of detachment from reality from Putin in the name of his ideology which can be described as paranoid”, considers Michel Eltchaninoff, the editor in chief of Philosophy Magazine.
“We have always said that he was a pragmatic leader, a good tactician. Will he sacrifice his pragmatism in the name of his ideology? It’s possible. In any case, he seems ready to go to war”, he underlines.