Russian leader Vladimir Putin gave his stammering spy chief a tongue-lashing at a security council meeting Tuesday, schooling him in a discussion about Moscow recognizing the independence of two separatist-controlled regions of Ukraine.
The director of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Russia seemed to goof after a testy exchange with Putin, and said he supported absorbing the breakaway states into the Russian federation before backtracking and saying he supported their independence.
Russia’s recognition of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic has been viewed as the possible first step of Russia’s expected invasion of Ukraine.
Putin is seen in a viral video telling intelligence director Sergei Naryshkin to “speak plainly” multiple times, interrupting and speaking over him as he pushes the spy chief to see if he supports recognizing Donetsk and Luhank’s sovereignty.
“Speak, speak, speak — plainly,” a visibly annoyed Putin says, according to a translation by journalist Peter Liakhov.
Naryshkin stumbles over his words “I will support the proposal about the recognition of…”
Putin then interjects again. “I will support? Or I support?” he says, telling him to speak plainly again.
“I support the proposal…” Naryshkin said.
Putin fired back: “Then say it like that! Yes or no.”
“I support the proposal about the entry of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics into the Russian Federation,” the spy chief then said.
Putin laughed at that stumble.
“We’re not talking about that,” Putin says, according to the translation. “We’re not discussing that. We’re talking about recognizing their independence or not.”
“Yes,” Naryshkin concludes after the dressing down. “I support the proposal to recognize their independence.”
Russia deployed troops into the two pro-Moscow regions, sparking President Joe Biden to announce new sanctions against its former Cold War foe.