GB News: Putin's health 'impacting' his aggressive policies
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Saturday marks 100 days since February 24, the day Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began. Since then, the world has overwhelmingly shown its support for Ukraine by supplying the country with weapons and taking in Ukrainian refugees. Meanwhile, most of Putin’s allies have either left his side or been heavily sanctioned by the West, leaving him isolated. Analysing recent footage of both leaders, Judi James spoke to Express.co.uk about their body language – and what it says about how they are coping after 100 days of war.
Ms James said that the war has had a “profound effect” on both Putin and Mr Zelensky’s body language.
She said the Ukrainian leader, a former actor, has “transformed from a TV comedian into a resolute and powerful-looking wartime leader”.
The body language expert added that, over three months since the conflict started, “Zelensky’s appearances show no signs of a man beset by weariness, fear or anxiety”, but, “If anything, he appears stronger, firmer and even more determined”.
She continued: “He speaks with confidence and emphasis. His movements signal strong emotions but they also define a man in control of those emotions. His eye contact with the camera and therefore with his people is deep and intense. He looks engaging and his sustained gaze suggests honesty.
“His chin lifts occasionally as he talks, giving the impression of ongoing defiance and strength. His determination appears obvious when his lips purse together at the end of his sentences to signal firmness.”
Continuing her analysis, Ms James said: “His hands are clasped on the desk and he turns at an angle to address the camera. With his short sleeves showing his muscles he looks physically strong, which is a trait Putin has always promoted in his own leadership profile in the past.
“His body lifts slightly in a gesture of emphasis and his frown deepens as he speaks. In terms of negotiations, his non-verbal signals still suggest a man unwilling to back down.
“His vocal tone sounds strong and it becomes even stronger as he speaks, a non-stop flow that comes without pauses or verbal fillers. When he raises his hand to gesticulate it is for emphasis as he repeats one of his points.
“His micro-gestures suggest anger or even disgust at some points. His nose wrinkles and his frown deepens as his left cheek lifts.”
However, Ms James said that in contrast, Putin looks “drained and physically weakened”.
She said that in some of his most recent appearances, some of Putin’s movements look “almost spasmodic”.
She added: “Unlike Zelensky, Putin always traded on his skills as a physical and intellectual alpha, liking to present as both stronger and smarter than his opponents. Recently though, although the signature leg splay is still a feature, his torso angle hints at lowered energy, with his head appearing to sink into his shoulders.
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“His eye movement looks non-directional. As he speaks he keeps his eyes down and moves them around rather than engaging in eye contact. He also sighs, which again suggests low energy or even regret.”
Ms James added that Putin’s signature body language traits seem to have become “exaggerated”.
She said: “He has had a habit of holding onto furniture for years. When he first met Trump he held onto one chair arm as he shook hands but now he seems to clutch at tables when he is in meetings.
“He also had a habit of tapping one foot in a metronomic gesture that suggested impatience. Now the foot seems to move about more frequently and more randomly and his hands clench and unclench.”
However, Ms James suggested that Putin could be pretending to appear weak to try and “rally sympathy” or to imply that he is the “victim rather than the aggressor”.
She said: “Putin is a very devious body language player and much depends on how deliberate any of his signals are now and how many are spontaneous
“Showing physical weakness has not been a ploy in the past but it could possibly be a way of trying to rally sympathy and even to attempt to turn the tables by implying he is the victim rather than the aggressor in the conflict.”
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