During an appearance on MSNBC on Saturday afternoon, a former CIA agent who spent time in Russia was asked about questions being raised about Russian President Vladimir Putin's physical and mental health, and admitted there appeared to be something different about him during his televised address before invading Ukraine.
Speaking with host Alex Witt, Tracy Walder -- who served in both the CIA's Counterterrorism Center and as Special Agent with the FBI -- was asked why the Russian strongman took the bold move to invade the neighboring country despite threats from western nations that his county would be subject to massive sanctions.
"I think for the vast majority of Putin's time in office, that's really how he's operated," she told the MSNBC host. "He served in East Germany, really when East Germany fell and the Soviet Union really fell apart in 1991 -- that's when he was there. And I think he views that as almost a personal defeat."
"He grew up at a time in Russia in the '50s, '60s, really at their -- really some of their strongest points, and I think that is -- he wants to restore Russia really back to that, and he looks at Ukraine right now as being occupied, almost, by a foreign country, and that foreign country being sort of the west's influence, if you will," she continued.
"Well, here's what French President Emmanuel Macron said recently about Putin, and it was reported in the Wall Street Journal," host Witt prompted. "That 'Mr. Macron noticed a change in Mr. Putin's demeanor when speaking to him on the phone over the course of the pandemic. He tended to talk in circles, rewriting history, a close aide to Mr. Macron said. If you look at the video of Putin talking to leaders across those long tables.' What does all this suggest to you, the level of isolation that he has endured due to his paranoia about Covid? "
"I completely agree with that," Walder replied. "That is one thing that I have noticed lately, even -- and I know this sounds superficial -- but if you really just look at pictures of him, which I tend to do quite a bit, the shape of his face has even changed. He looks different, he speaks differently, and he's crossed over to what I think I consider to be almost the dark side of history."
"Look, Putin was never a friend, if you will, but most of the things that he was doing was really sort of cyber, psychological operations, those kinds of things," she added. "Now he's really crossed over sort of that red line into, you know, this full military warfare, but then part of me wonders if we should be this surprised."
MSNBC 02 26 2022 14 51 14 youtu.be