VLADIMIR Putin's wild speech which saw him rant and rave about the West and make veiled nuke threats also had hidden, subtle messages.
Body language experts dissected the Russian tyrant for The Sun Online – revealing the messages even Vlad himself might not have realised he was sending from behind his podium.
Despite rumours of poor health, Putin stood and spoke for nearly two hours yesterday – raging about everything from global war and paedophiles to exporting grain.
The whole affair was dripping in symbolism as the battle lines appear to deepen with a new divide in the East and West – but there were also some meanings that were more hidden.
One body language expert believes the bombastic way Putin spoke about nukes shows how serious he is about his threat, as he pulled Russia back from a key treaty with the US.
It included a distinctive "fist chop" – in one of the "most powerful" indicators of Vlad's mindset.
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And the dramatic staging and his impassive audience was designed to make him look like the "sole saviour" of Russia, another explained to The Sun Online.
His speech came in the days before the the first anniversary of his vicious and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
And it came as Joe Biden was in Europe, as the US President met with Volodymyr Zelensky before delivering a major speech in Poland.
Professor Erik Bucy, a body language expert from Texas Tech University, told The Sun Online the staging was key to understanding the deeper meaning of Vlad's speech.
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Putin worked hard to make him appear to be the "sole political voice" of the nation – and often looked down at his prepared script for the major of the session.
Prof Bucy explained Putin is making clear that he is the boss – and everyone must listen to his every word, including seemingly choreographed breaks for applause.
It comes as Vlad is facing rumours of growing dissent within his inner circle – with internal feuds raging around his pet warlord and former chef, Wagner group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Prigozhin and "General Armageddon" Sergei Surovikin may have considered trying to seize power back in September – with both of them now out of favour with Vlad.
And so Putin set out his stall in his state-of-the-nation address – reaffirming his own position as the man in the charge.
"Putin is set back quite a ways from the invited audience and is the only focus of attention, clearly positioning himself as the lone savior of the State—the only leader capable of articulating Russian truth and taking on perceived enemies," said Bucy.
He added: "The setting of the speech communicates a larger message about Putin’s sole importance as the head of government and the vast distance between himself and anyone else."
It comes as:
- Vladimir Putin warned of global war and made veiled nuke threats in a rambling speech in Moscow
- Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Kyiv to meet with Volodymyr Zelensky in a symbolic show of support
- The world counts down to the anniversary of the war on February 24
- Putin is alleged to have tried to carry out a missile test during Joe's trip
- Russia is feared to be massing 500,000 troops for a new assault on Ukraine
- Ukraine says Russia has placed its nuclear forces on combat alert
- Zelensky warned China arming Russia could trigger World War 3
Putin would also use his wild hand gestures to "wave off" any criticism and would also shrug as he tried to signal he had "no choice" for his actions.
And while we can learn about Putin, we can also learn about his audience – who sat stoney faced throughout his address.
"Even the raising of an eyebrow could be construed as an anti-Putin gesture and isn’t worth the risk," Prof Bucy told The Sun Online.
"Applause is the only appropriate response, and only at sanctioned times."
Prof Bucy went on: "Putin speaks at a rapid clip, shooting out words so as to maintain a sense of urgency.
"The faster he speaks, the more dire the situation sounds—and the less time there is for the hand-picked audience to reflect on or question what he is saying.
"The numerous cutaways to the assembled audience shows an odd mixture of attentiveness and impassivity, as if the assembled functionaries and military brass are starved for information but can’t show any spontaneous reaction to what they are hearing. "
Forming his hand into a fist he brought the fist down onto the lectern in a swift, definitive chop that would hint at no room for negotiation
Body language expert Judi James also gave her assessment of Putin – saying his performance did not look like that of a "physically sick or dying man".
His "fist chop" as he spoke about withdrawing from the nuke treaty New START came with one of his "most powerful body language displays".
It showed how serious Vlad is when talking about nuclear weapons.
But she did notice a "hint of weakness" as Putin was by the end of his speech clutching his lectern with both hands and appeared fidgety after speaking for nearly two hours.
"His two hands seemed to be used as anchors while his torso squirmed non-stop in between them, suggesting he was constantly shifting his body weight from one foot to the other," said Judi.
"Squirming can be a sign of discomfort or some physical inability to keep still and there has recently been focus on Putin’s foot-squirming when he is sitting at meetings.
"However this kind of torso movement during a speech can also be a form of peacocking for Putin, a bristling ritual that he has previously used to promote alpha strength."
She noted the TV cameras filmed Putin's arrival at a distance so we couldn't view the heavy gait he's been spotted with recently – but on a whole, Vlad appear in good health.
But one of the sections that really stood out for Ms James was Putin's "untroubled" talk about nuclear weapons.
"Forming his hand into a fist he brought the fist down onto the lectern in a swift, definitive chop that would hint at no room for negotiation," Judi told The Sun Online.
"As his use of hand gestures had been minimal throughout this speech this sudden gesture had extra impact.
"He shrugged to suggest what he seems to see as a ridiculous idea as he spoke of a ‘strategic defeat on Russia’ and reiterated his point using the iron fist followed by an alpha chest point, discussing the UK and French ‘nuclear arsenals’."
Judi went on: "Otherwise it was Putin’s chilling ability to deliver dystopian rhetoric with relatively undramatic body language that was remarkable.
"Speaking about threats to Russia from ‘neo-Nazism’ ‘terrorism’ and ‘even the devil himself’ his increase in signals of anger only really included some micro-gestures of snarling and what appeared to be a re-splaying of his legs and arms."
Putin accused the West of trying to start a "global" war and made a veiled nuclear threat in his rambling speech to the nation.
It comes as the Putin is feared to be massing his forces for a new push in Ukraine.
In the near two-hour diatribe, he claimed the very existence of Russia is now at stake – something considered a red line for the Kremlin.
Moscow's nuclear doctrine clearly states their forces can use nuclear weapons when the country's "very existence" is at risk.
Putin issued a further warning to the West by ditching the landmark nuclear arms control treaty.
The New START treaty caps the number of strategic nuclear warheads that the US and Russia can deploy.
And it controls the deployment of land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers to deliver them.
Biden spoke hours later during a barnstorming speech in Poland in which he vowed Russia will "never" win in Ukraine.
He taunted Putin saying Kyiv "stands strong, proud and free" a year on from the invasion.
The US President said Putin believed Nato would "fracture and divide" – but in fact the alliance was more united than ever.
Russia is estimated to have lost almost 150,000 soldiers in Ukraine as they are smashed against a heroic Ukrainian resistance led by President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Putin's future is now seen as tied to his success or failure.
Moscow still controls one-fifth of Ukraine but has seen major battlefield defeats and hopes of a quick victory dashed.
Vlad is desperate to win to save himself – and sees the war as part of a wider conflict with the West.
Britain, the US, and other Western nations are all supporting Ukraine with weapons and supplies.
Russia expected to be welcomed as conquering liberators when they staged their invasion nearly one year ago.
But instead of flags and cheering crowds, they were met with gunfire and brave resistance.
Putin is facing internal political pressure with the anniversary now just days away – and very little to show for the vast expenditure of blood and treasure.
It is believed that if Putin continues to fail in the war, his regime could collapse – and it could have dire consequences for Russia.
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