Putin ‘worried’ about coup, commentator says
Russia’s president could declare an escalation of war within days, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace warned this week. Ukrainian cities have been bombed for more than two months as part of the so-called “military operation” carried out by Russia. While the West continues to supply both money and weapons to Ukraine, Russia has repeatedly referred to its nuclear capabilities.
Very few people understand the thought processes of a man who alienated himself from the rest of the world with his invasion of Ukraine, but a new series of tales offers insight into the Russian despot.
Sir Roderic Lyne was British Ambassador to Russia between 2000 and 2004 and witnessed Putin’s rise and consolidation of power firsthand.
One of his first encounters with Putin was in March 2000, when Tony Blair traveled to St Petersburg on a controversial ‘unofficial state visit’ to meet the man who had not yet been officially elected president.
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Putin became “very aggressive” during the meeting.
Tony and Cherie Blair meet Putin and his wife Lyudmila.
Les Blairs, Sir Roderic and other British officials attended the premiere of a new production of War and Peace at the Mariinsky Theatre.
Sir Roderic says he detected early on that Putin was “quite nervous” and “didn’t know how to play the leader at all”.
Among the topics of conversation was Chechnya – Russia had just embarked on a brutal winter siege on the Chechen capital of Grozny, reducing it to rubble and committing horrific war crimes.
Speaking to The Independent, Sir Roderic recalled: ‘We also went to Chechnya which was an area of massive concern in the west.
Questions about the Chechen war drew a furious response from the Russian despot.
“There was a lot of criticism about the way the Russians were running it. Putin would become very aggressive and defensive.
“He would go into a long, very moving, slightly angry monologue in order to cut out the things he didn’t want to answer.”
A month later, Putin made the return trip to London and held talks with Mr. Blair in addition to being received at Buckingham Palace.
At a joint press conference with Mr Blair at the Foreign Office, the former KGB officer launched into another ‘rambling rant’ about Chechnya after a reporter asked about the conflict .
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Putin visited London a month later.
Sir Roderic recalled: “It just triggered Putin and he got very angry.
“He gave a very long and very colorful answer. Blair looks very embarrassed.
“He’s just saying how wonderful things are. And then there’s this guy who rants and raves about Chechnya.
“It was that side of Putin that was coming out.”
Sir Roderic explained how he concluded early on that there were two sides to Putin.
Putin answers a reporter’s question during the joint press conference.
He said: “There were two Putins: Putin, the rational pragmatist who was trying to improve Russia.
“And then the other Putin: very insecure, a little paranoid, a rough boy from the back streets of St. Petersburg, a former KGB officer who had been brought up and believed in the Soviet Union.”
Russia’s relations with the UK soured in 2006 when former Russian spy Alexander Litvinienko was poisoned in London and died three weeks later.
After Russia refused to extradite Andrei Lugovoy to face charges, the UK expelled four Russian diplomats.
Russia responded by expelling four British diplomats, and the issue still remains a major irritant in Anglo-Russian relations.
Relations soured further in 2014 when Putin first invaded Ukraine, and fell further in 2018 following the Skripal poisonings.
Putin’s heinous war in Ukraine has all but destroyed any positive relationship between the UK and Russia, with Boris Johnson now banned from entering Russia due to Britain’s ‘hostile’ stance on the war.
Speaking to LBC this week, Mr Wallace warned that Putin could declare war on what he believes to be the “Nazis of the world”.
He said: “I wouldn’t be surprised…that he will probably declare on May Day that ‘we are now at war with the Nazis of the world and we must massively mobilize the Russian people’.”
Putin is reportedly desperate to push the war in Ukraine as a form of success in time for May 9 – when Russia commemorates the USSR’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.