Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to run out of patience with Director of Foreign Intelligence Sergey Naryshkin.
Putin berated his top spy chief during a televised Monday meeting, shortly before recognizing two breakaway provinces of Ukraine as independent countries.
According to a translation from the Guardian, Naryshkin was vague and elusive about endorsing formal recognition of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic.
Naryshkin suggested giving Russia’s Western “partners” one more chance to reach a solution, appearing hesitant to back Putin’s plans to carve away a slice of Ukraine.
“In the worst case, we have to make the decision we are discussing today.”
“What does that mean, ‘in the worst case?’ Are you suggesting we start negotiations?” Putin responded coyly, alluding to the extensive negotiations between Russia and Western countries that have failed to solve disputes involving Ukraine.
Naryshkin appeared flustered by Putin’s question, with the Russian president later cutting him off and directing Naryshkin to speak clearly.
Do you trust Joe Biden to negotiate with Putin?
“Speak, speak, speak plainly,” Putin demanded.
The spy chief said that he “will” support the recognition measure.
“I would support, or I am supporting? Speak plainly, Sergey!”
Naryshkin finally answered Putin directly, speaking in the affirmative.
“Then say it like that: yes or no,” Putin said in turn.
Naryshkin went on to endorse annexing the Ukrainian territories in question to Russia, only for Putin to correct him.
“We’re not talking about that. We’re not discussing that. We’re talking about recognizing their independence or not. Yes or no?”
A flustered Naryshkin humbly stated his support of recognizing independence before Putin dismissed him to his seat.
“Thanks. You can take your seat.”
The colorful exchange spurred reactions in the West, with the conversation presenting a picture of Putin’s strong-handed control over the Russian government.
Have a look at what happens in yesterday Security Council at Kremlin.
The spy chief digress slightly from what Putin wants to hear, and check how Putin treats him:
check how the look and The facial expression change with fear… pic.twitter.com/cjYozXsNhj
— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) February 22, 2022
Putin has persisted as the leader of Russia since 1999, serving alternatively as president and prime minister.
Putin’s government maintains it’s only recognizing Donetsk and Luhansk as independent countries, although the rebel governments of both areas are strongly backed by Russia.