The Russian president has always shown us exactly who he is. So why did it take the invasion of Ukraine for us to believe him?
Vladimir Putin was annoyed – or maybe just bored. The Russian leader had been patiently fielding questions from a small group of international journalists in the restaurant of a modest hotel in Davos. Then one of the queries seemed to irritate him. He stared back at the questioner, an American, and said slowly, through an interpreter: “I’ll answer that question in a minute. But first let me ask you about the extraordinary ring you have on your finger.”
All heads in the room swivelled. “Why is the stone so large?” Putin continued. A few of the audience began to giggle and the journalist looked uncomfortable. Putin took on a tone of mock sympathy and continued: “You surely don’t mind me asking, because you wouldn’t be wearing something like that unless you were trying to draw attention to yourself?” There was more laughter. By now, the original question had been forgotten. It was a masterclass in distraction and bullying.