President Putin’s State of Mind: Jekyll and Hyde?

Observing the Russian media this morning as the stock market was again dropping, with the noticeable exception of Gazprom – surely the Germans would never abandon Nordstream II – there was an air of uneasiness, a desperate urge to avoid discussing the events of last night. The party was over. The morning after the night before. A bad hangover remained.

Even Deep State TV, Zvezda, which is not unconnected with the Ministry of Defence financially, decided to open with an earnest discussion of almost anything else – a headline about a new Chinese nuclear power station, the origins of CIA…Only the military newspaper Krasnaya zvezda carried a verbatim account of Putin’s hour long rant. Even the state newspaper Rossiiskaya gazeta was extraordinarily brief on the matter. And the Foreign Ministry website only carried Lavrov’s intervention at the Security Council, while spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wittered on about the continued need for diplomacy (what else could she say?) It was like one of those unforgettable seminars in the now defunct Centre for Russian and East European Studies at Birmingham University – thoughtfully closed down by the latter – when a speaker came and disgraced himself delivering an ignorant paper, and everyone present took an inordinate, silent interest in the state of their shoe laces.

Novaya gazeta, normally reticent on foreign policy, gave extensive coverage to the reaction in France, which, as could be expected, was not exactly positive. President Macron, with an election not so far into the future and therefore mindful of reputation, even more than normally, had stuck his neck out in dozens of phone calls to Putin, visiting the Kremlin for talks, seeking assurances. He was stunned by Putin’s performance. Putin had broken his word. But Macron should not have been completely surprised. He had apparently already noticed a complete change in Putin’s demeanour since his last visit in December 2019. According to a spokesman for the Élisée, Putin was a man transformed in a power warp. The rambling speech was “rigid and paranoid.” Dr Jekyll had turned into Mr Hyde.

Novaya gazeta:

Путин «нарушил слово, данное Макрону»

В Елисейском дворце отреагировали на признание независимости «ДНР» и «ЛНР»

07:41, 22 февраля 2022Юрий Сафронов, обозреватель «Новой», журналист RFI, Париж