Ukraine: Vladimir Putin launches missile in warning
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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is fast approaching the two-month mark, with Putin now ordering his forces to block the besieged city of Mariupol “so that not even a fly comes through”. Putin made the comments on Thursday while talking to his defence minister Sergei Shoigu, who claimed that the rest of the city, which has largely been razed to the ground by weeks of Russian bombardment, had been “liberated”. The state of Putin’s mental and physical health has been called into question since the Russian leader launched his illegal and brutal invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, suggested that the Russian President may be suffering from some kind of illness as she attempted to explain Putin’s motive for invading Ukraine.
Meanwhile former US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice said the Russian leader looked “different”, adding: “He was always calculating and cold but this is different. He seems erratic”.
While the Kremlin has insisted that Putin’s mental and physical state is “normal”, health speculation also arose when the President met with Emmanuel Macron in February.
The two leaders were pictured on either end of a comically massive white table, a measure allegedly due to the Russian leader’s fear of contracting Covid.
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The 69-year-old President is notoriously paranoid about coronavirus and has largely remained in an isolated cocoon throughout the pandemic.
In June 2020 Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov confirmed that anyone who wanted to see the Russian leader had to walk through a futuristic “disinfection tunnel” where they would be sprayed with an aerosol mist.
Meanwhile, those hoping to meet Putin must go through a mandatory two-week isolation period beforehand.
Speaking to the VOA news outlet in 2020, Mr Coolidge noted that Putin’s deep health paranoia, exhibited by his retreat behind a futuristic disinfection tunnel, was a trait prevalent in autocrats.
Mr Coolidge, who is a psychologist and professor at the University of Colorado, said: “[Autocrats] tend to have an excessive fear of death or infection.
“They fear losing control, they fear losing everything and have a need to control everything. And they are not always rational about it.”
The World Health Organisation questioned the efficiency of Putin’s health tunnel and said that such chambers may potentially be dangerous as users may inhale cleaning solutions in aerosol form.
The global body also said that anyone who goes through the tunnel can still transmit the virus “as soon as they start speaking, coughing or sneezing”.
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Nevertheless, Putin’s spokesperson told reporters: “Extra precautions are justifiable and understandable where the President is concerned.”
Mr Coolidge added that the lengths the germaphobic Russian leader had taken to avoid contracting Covid were comparable to past autocrats, including former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.
In the 2003 book ‘Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar’ historian Simon Sebag Montefiore described Stalin among other things as a “fidgety hypochondriac suffering from chronic tonsillitis, psoriasis, rheumatic aches from his deformed arm and the iciness of his Siberian exile.”
His fear of death was partly the driving force behind the infamous Doctor’s Plot of 1952, when Stalin rounded a group of Jewish doctors and accused them of plotting to kill him.
Similarly, nineteenth-century German chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, was also excessively worried about his health.
Despite attempting to portray his own strongman image, Putin is said to have been paranoid about his health long before Covid.
He has been filmed hectoring ministers for coughing, demanding to know why they had come to work while sick.
In November 2019 he berated his entire cabinet after being notified that only three of its members had been vaccinated against flu.
Putin said: “Three people, or four if you count me. Getting the flu is self-harm. You could have prevented it, but you didn’t”.
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