Friday, June 30, 2023

Body Language Analysis №4704: Vladimir Putin Displays Fear Whilst Speaking to Senior Russian Military — Nonverbal and Emotional Intelligence


On Tuesday 27 June 2023, Vladimir Putin gave a speech to senior Russian military staff (video above). What follows is an analysis of a small, but crucial portion of that speech.

At the 0:44 second mark, Putin begins to display what is an extreme example of a highly-specific body language behavior.


He initiates a bilateral eyelid closure, extending then flexing his torso/waist simultaneously whilst planting his palms on the arms of his chair — for what initially looks like a rapid transition to a standing posture. But this was something else far different… 


As we continue to view the next approximately 3 seconds (0:44–0:47), we see Putin appear to begin standing up. He raises (and then quickly lowers) his buttocks up off (to a height of about 13–16 centimeters [~ 5 to 6 inches]) — and then back down onto his chair.

Provided the translator accompanying this video was accurate — and did not lag too far behind with his translation, the crucial passages correlated with this chair squirming/buttock raising dialogue are as follows:

“… because we understood what was happening and what *would* have happened, had you not averted this mutiny and you did that by fulfilling your military duty — and being loyal to the oath, ah, to, ah, safeguard the country — as always happens in such cases — *always* and *everywhere*, the same thing happens after an armed *uprising* — you get *complete* chaos and civil war.”

When a person feels fear, one (of many) behaviors/effects they experience (and virtually always subconsciously) is a tightening of the glutei and pelvic floor muscles.

In addition, during the fear response, there’s also an accompanying tightening of rectal sphincter muscles and — in males during fear, a contraction of the scrotum occurs (specifically, of the Cremasteric and Dartos muscles), and thus a pulling-up of the testicles against the body in an effort to protect them.

Three completely different causes can also elicit a similar scrotal muscle contraction, however none of these apply in this particular Kremlin moment:

• Exposure to cold temperatures
• Cremasteric reflex
• Sexual excitement

Expressed more colloquially, when a person is experiencing fear, many of the muscles ‘down there’ contract. And guess what? — These contractions are the primary inciting mechanisms causing people to squirm in their chairs during moments of increasing anxiety — and fear.


This chair squirming/buttock raising was completely unplanned. As we can see from the motion artifact, the videographer also did not anticipate this movement.

Putin’s subconscious mind was driving the bus.


Less overt chair-squirmings can be either side-to-side or forward-backward motions or an amalgam of these vectors. Putin can be seen displaying these more subtle squirmings at multiple other times during this ~ 8 minutes speech (i.e., 0:40–0:42).

Please watch the video as the still images do not capture the dynamic nature of these behaviors. 


And closer to the beginning of this same speech, we can see Putin display another, less dramatic, example of Buttock-Raising/Chair-Squirming (0:15–0:16) followed by about 3 seconds of side-to-side squirming (0:16–0:19).

These various chair-squirmings and buttock-raisings are nonverbal manifestations of fear.


If you look carefully at Putin’s facial expressions during the dramatic buttock-raising (0:46), we can see a classic example of a Microexpression of Fear on his face… 

Specifically the corners of his mouth pull backward — along with a contraction and elevation of Putin’s forehead (slightly greater on his left), his eyebrows elevate, and his eyelids open wider (if his neck were not covered, we would have also seen a “Neck of Fear”).

Putin’s facial expression of Fear is absolutely congruent with his chair-squirming/buttock-raising.

So, when it comes to fear — the arse and the genitals contract in concert with the face.

And whilst we can easily and often visualize the physical effects of fear in the latter — manifestations of fear in the former group can be less obvious.

It’s crucial to note that, although it appears that Putin used some notes, his speech was not scripted word-for-word. And provided the translation was accurate, Putin’s syntax and paralanguage was quite word-saladesque.

Although relatively few of us have invaded foreign countries, and even a smaller fraction of us have incited the wrath of a megalomaniac mercenary of our own creation — from time to time we have all squirmed in, and sometimes lifted our own arses off of our own chairs.

SUMMARY: Vladimir Putin exhibited significant Fear during his recent speech to senior Russian military officials on Tuesday 27 June 2023.

Putin fears assassination.

Of course, this doesn’t mean he will be assassinated — but he does fear it.

Putin displayed a high level of fear via his Body Language, his spoken words, as well as his paralanguage.

No doubt you didn’t tune in to this analysis to read about Putin’s junk, however this analysis will help you read other people’s mental-emotional states much more accurately (and your own, à la real time feedback). Stay tuned.

All individuals, businesses, or organizations who want (need) to dramatically improve their Body Language skills — and all professionals who want to nuance their understanding of Emotional Intelligence, please email me at One-on-one, group, in-person, and online formats available.


This post and others accompanying it, serve as a reference source for the art and science of Body Language/Nonverbal Communication. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the author. In an effort to be both practical and academic, many examples from/of varied cultures, politicians, professional athletes, legal cases, public figures, etc., are cited in order to teach and illustrate both the interpretation of others’ body language as well as the projection of one’s own nonverbal skills in many different contexts.