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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is leading some American politicians, pundits and world leaders to question President Vladimir Putin’s mental stability.
Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who served under President George W. Bush, called Putin’s recent behavior “erratic”.
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“I’ve met him many times, and he’s a different Putin,” she told Fox News on Sunday. “He was always calculating and cold, but this is different. He seems erratic. There’s an increasingly deep and delirious rendition of the story.”
Former Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper echoed Rice’s assessment of the Russian leader, who grew increasingly frustrated with his inability to quickly subdue Ukrainian forces.
“I personally think he’s unbalanced,” Clapper said on CNN on Sunday. “I worry about his sharpness and balance.”
Concerns about Putin’s fragile mental health are particularly relevant given that he has his finger on the nuclear trigger, Clapper added.
Senior intelligence officials who have known Putin for decades told Fox News he has been isolated for months in his presidential compound, interacting exclusively with a small group of advisers and cronies.
A senior national security official under President Donald Trump, who requested anonymity, said when Putin met with French President Emmanuel Macron earlier this month he seemed “paranoid” and “unwilling to listen to reason”. .
At the meeting in Moscow, the men sat around an absurdly long marble table as Macron tried to persuade Putin to step down. After the failed intervention effort, Macron privately described Putin as “more rigid, more isolated and fundamentally lost in a sort of ideological and security drift”, according to a senior French official.
Putin’s longtime ally, Czech President Milos Zeman, called the Russian leader “crazy” this week after launching the invasion, according to The Guardian.
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But Rebekah Koffler, a former DIA intelligence officer and author of “Putin’s Book: Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat America,” told Fox News Digital that Putin was no lunatic.
“Putin is absolutely not crazy. All this talk calling him crazy means we still don’t take Putin seriously or understand him,” Koffler said,
“He is not delusional, there are no mental abnormalities,” she added. “Putin is a typical cold-blooded Russian autocratic leader and a very calculated risk-taker. He’s just executing a plan he’s been hatching for 20 years.”
Koffler said calling Putin crazy is a cover-up for the United States’ inability to appreciate Putin’s ambitions or psychology.
President Joe Biden initially called the use of sanctions a deterrent. After the invasion, he changed course and said he did not believe economic sanctions would prevent war.
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“On the contrary, this conflict exposed our lack of a viable counter-strategy to Putin’s well-thought-out plan,” Koffler said. “We’re hanging on to straws right now.”
Gillian Turner and The Associated Press contributed to this report