Before Vladimir Putin went into politics and became Russian President, he had been employed by the KGB for many years. A German publicist and expert on the Russian secret service shows how this time shaped him.
Erich Schmidt-Eenboom, publicist and peace researcher, is one of Germany’s leading intelligence experts. In a “t-online” interview, the chairman of the “Research Institute for Peace Research” gives an insight into the psyche of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The upheavals in the GDR, which Putin witnessed as a KGB officer in Dresden, shaped him just as much as his time as head of the Russian domestic secret service FSB, during which at least three assassination attempts were carried out on him. “Putin has become extremely cautious, sometimes anxious,” said Schmidt-Eenboom. According to the researcher, his current behavior is not only based on his time with the KGB. A kind of “apocalyptic mood” is now emerging with Putin, which could be related to his age and his state of health. All of this makes him unpredictable.
Even many experts were surprised by the outbreak of war against Ukraine, as the Kremlin chief spoke shortly before that of wanting to withdraw Russian troops from the Ukrainian border. Schmidt-Eenboom sees this as typical behavior on the part of Putin, which serves to create uncertainty. He also achieves this by lying. “Putin is unpredictable. That’s his trademark. He and his Foreign Minister Lavrov simply lied when they said that Russia was not planning a war.” According to the expert, his statements about gas supplies via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline are similarly difficult: “He is also playing the sphinx when it comes to gas : All of this serves to unsettle his opponents.”
While Putin always appears calm and confident in the public spotlight, behind the scenes at conferences and meetings he is said to have choleric attacks again and again. And even in public appearances, according to Schmidt-Eenboom, his face and posture showed “that he often has to force himself” to be the cool statesman.
Erich Schmidt-Eenboom is of the opinion that Vladimir Putin no longer correctly assesses the global political situation and was also badly advised by his military officers. They would have led him to believe that a war against Ukraine would only take a few days. He also thought that “NATO was at an end after US President Trump.” At the same time, he considered “the EU to be at odds and hardly able to act because of Corona.”
According to Schmidt-Eenboom, the Russian President has not informed the foreign secret service SWR of his plans because he sees Ukraine as part of Russia and prefers to work with the domestic secret service FSB. Even before the start of the war, he created death lists with the names of Ukrainian mayors, who were actually quickly killed or captured.
However, the expert does not believe it is possible to derive any conclusions for Putin’s further plans from this. The Kremlin boss is too unpredictable for that.
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