Are the Defence Secretary and the Prime Minister coordinating on attack lines? Ben Wallace, speaking on LBC, told listeners that Putin is a “lunatic” who suffers from “small man syndrome” and holds a “macho” view of the world. In the noughties, Putin cultivated an image of “strongman” virility, having himself photographed riding horses without his shirt on, fishing in the Taiga topless and out hunting… again, topless.
Now, aged 69, just four years below the average male life expectancy in Russia, the years have left their mark. At the Victory Day parades in Moscow, he sat with a blanket on his lap to keep himself warm.
In an interview with German media following the G7 summit, Boris Johnson accused Vladimir Putin of “toxic masculinity” and claimed that a female president would not have behaved in the same way. That must come as news to students of Russian history who will remember that Catherine the Great, during her reign in the 18th century, expanded Russian territory by thousands upon thousands of square miles.
The Hound speculates that the comments show the enduring salience of the Gavin Williamson doctrine of British foreign policy making, developed during his time at the MoD. In March 2018, following the Salisbury nerve agent attack he said that “Russia should go away and should shut up.” A bit on the nose, cheeky and a little bit crass – but by God, didn’t he have a point about toxic strongman Putin?