Russian President Vladimir Putin was caught in an awkward meeting with his military chief of staff on Tuesday as he inspects war exercises in Russia’s Far East, thousands of kilometers from the conflict in Ukraine.
The Zvezda military news service published a video of Putin and the Chief of Staff, General Valery Gerasimov, entering an observation booth, sitting with ample space between them and maintaining an uncomfortable silence as they awaited the arrival of the defense minister. , Sergei Shoigu.
Russian President oversees military exercises in Primorsky region (Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/Reproduction via REUTERS)
The strange body language has drawn scrutiny from political and military analysts on social media.
“Putin obviously doesn’t even want to talk to the commander of the Russian Armed Forces,” wrote former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt on Twitter.
In a separate clip, the mood seemed lighter as Putin and Shoigu were shown exchanging a joke while Gerasimov spoke on the phone.
Vladimir Putin observes joint Chinese-Russian military exercises in the country’s far east, Sept. 6, 2022. — Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev via Reuters
Gerasimov was almost absent from public view during Russia’s 195-day war in Ukraine, prompting speculation about his position with Putin and even his health.
As he proceeds with the quadrennial “Vostok” (east) wargames, Putin appears to be sending a signal that Russia’s armed forces are able to operate normally despite the demands of war.
But the Defense Ministry said the exercises that began Sept. 1 involved just 50,000 troops, a fraction of the 300,000 they said took part in 2018. Western military analysts say they believe both numbers are exaggerated.