Putin ‘knows he’s lying’ about Ukraine as key body language sign picked up on

Vladimir Putin speaks at Russia-Africa summit in July

Vladimir Putin has given many speeches since he authorised Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In each speech on the war, or special military operation as Russia often describes it, Putin drives home the message that Russia must protect Ukrainians from Nazis.

He has repeatedly said that neo-Nazism goes to the heart of Ukraine, all the way to Kyiv and those in power.

Few truly believe him, and it is unclear to what extent the Russian public believes that neo-Nazis are trying to gain a foothold in Ukraine.

According to one expert, Putin himself has made no effort to conceal the fact that he, too, doesn’t believe the reality he is trying to push.

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Dr Colin Alexander, a political communications expert, told Express.co.uk that it was plain to see that Putin “doesn’t believe” some of the things he is telling the Russian public. He said: “On denazifying Ukraine in particular, he knows he’s lying.”

Dr Alexander said the way Putin moves and presents himself during these speeches gives away that he doesn’t truly believe in his words; his body language is lax, uncertain, and deceives him.

He said: “Even when he’s talking, he’s lying, and he knows this.

“We can work out that he’s lying quite easily, but we don’t really say anything about it.

“That whole denazification argument is one of the best examples of how Putin knows that this war is a falsehood.”

Experts say Putin’s effort to frame Ukraine as being overrun by Nazis is largely an attempt to delegitimise Ukrainian nationalism, something that has sky-rocketed ever since the country’s Maidan Revolution and Russia’s annexation of Crime both in 2014.

The rhetoric of fighting fascism cuts deeply in Russia given that the Red Army battled tirelessly against Nazi Germany and helped the Allies to victory.

In playing on this Putin is trying to exploit the trauma of the war and twist history in his favour.

Ukraine does have a neo-Nazi problem, but it is very small, nowhere near the scale that Putin claims.

The Azov Brigade was born in 2014 in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has long had ties to neo-Nazism, using controversial symbols linked to Nazism and far-right ideology.

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Much of the brigade’s membership is made up of Russian speakers from Russian-speaking areas of Ukraine in the east.

Russian propaganda has latched on to the Azov Brigade and the Kremlin’s machine has portrayed it as a leading belligerent force against Russia, despite it having a membership of only between 900 and 2,5000 — around 0.2 percent of Russia’s active military.

In August 2022 Russia designated the brigade a terrorist group.

According to Dr Alexander, even Putin’s messengers are struggling with maintaining the line of denazification.

He said: “I was recently being interviewed on a TV station with a Kremlin representative and they actually had a nervous laugh when talking about the denazification.

“It was obvious: they knew they were lying.”

Growing up, World War 2, or the Great Patriotic War as it is known in Russia, was central to Putin’s worldview and the identity of the Soviet Union, the state building itself on an anti-fascism platform post-1945.

But as Timothy Snyder, an historian noted in an interview with The Washington Post, it is ironic now since Putin appears to be “fighting a war the way that actual Nazis did,” invading neighbours based on a belief that their internationally recognised borders mean nothing.

There is another reason why Putin may be struggling to believe his denazification message: Volodymyr Zelenksy, Ukraine’s President, is a jew who lost many family members during the Holocaust.

Zelensky himself has confronted Putin and made explicit parallels between his regime and the Nazis, writing on Twitter early last year that Russia had attacked Ukraine just “as Nazi Germany did.”

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