Pentagon studied Putin's body language
IT TURNS out all those years Russian leader Vladimir Putin was cavorting bare-chested outdoors, demonstrating his judo skills and darting whales, a Pentagon researcher may have been studying him for clues to his behaviour.
The Office of Net Assessments, a sort of internal think-tank for the United States secretary of defence, has spent US$300,000 (about S$380,000) annually since 2009 on research to study the body language and movement patterns of key global leaders, one of them being Mr Putin, who has served as Russia's prime minister and is its president.
Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon's chief spokesman, said Mr Putin had been studied in 2008, along with Russia's then president, Mr Dmitry Medvedev, and again in 2012.
He denied news reports implying there was an ongoing study of Mr Putin in connection with the current crisis in Ukraine.
The research on foreign leaders has been conducted for years and, at one point, was carried out within the State Department, officials said. In the past 10 years, approximately 40 reports have been done on different leaders, a defence official said.
Officials identified the lead researcher as Ms Brenda Connors, a fellow at the Naval War College in Rhode Island and certified movement analyst, who conducts the studies with a small team.
While her reports have not been made public, she has written newspaper articles on Mr Putin that were based on her research and were cleared by the Pentagon, officials said.
One 2004 article, published in the Providence Journal in Rhode Island, described Mr Putin's movement style as one that "shows a man struggling to move forward - a weakness that is proving to be an impediment to both his leadership and Russia's future".
The article said that, by looking at videotapes in split-second detail, it was possible to "discover a person's signature movement style, a pattern as unique as a fingerprint".
"Mr Putin's inability to integrate movement...raises obstacles to his sophisticated exercise of power," the article said.
"His judo displays show a contender trying to advance, but his movement pattern causes the 'tail' to lag. One could compare this to his desire to move Russia forward while remaining stuck in the Soviet past," it said.