In an exclusive interview with Sky News Australia, the American journalist said she “did not see anything close to crazy” when she interviewed the Russian President and described how she was “manipulated” by him during dinner with another world leader.
Former Fox News presenter Megyn Kelly has described Russian President Vladimir Putin as a person who is “extremely cunning” and “extremely manipulative”.
The American journalist, who sat down to interview the leader three times during her TV career around 2018, was “nervous” to jump on the “he’s crazy now train” based on her personal experiences.
In an exclusive interview with Sky News Australia, the political commentator said she “didn’t see anything close to crazy” when she was invited to the Kremlin for an interview.
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“Vladimir Putin if he’s one thing, he’s smart, very strategic, he thinks out his plans very well and he doesn’t back down easily,” she said on Paul Murray Live.
“That’s not to say this is being well executed it’s clearly not.”
“It’s hard for me to buy that he’s completely lost it in such a short amount of time. He’s extremely cunning, extremely manipulative, extremely well-informed, well-read and ready for anything.
“As recently as 2018, and I spent a lot of hours with him, I mean I interviewed him in the Kremlin in Moscow where they keep their nuke site, I didn’t see anything close to crazy.”
Ms Kelly added she saw the 69-year-old as someone “who would absolutely kill for a strategic goal and would do so without feeling one bit of sorrow”.
It has been two weeks since he ordered thousands of his troops amassed around the border into Ukraine in what he initially labeled as a “special military operation”.
Since then, hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed, thousands injured, apartment blocks, hospitals, schools, and iconic landmarks decimated by numerous missile attacks.
Ms Kelly believes President Putin had it in him but did not expect the “ruthless” nature he would go about trying to seize Ukraine.
“I think this is more of the Vladimir Putin we knew before,” the 51-year-old said.
“We just didn’t correctly estimate the extent of his desires in this region of the country and just how ruthless he was prepared to be to get it.”
Ms Kelly said President Putin was “interesting” and switched on to be “whatever he thinks you want him to be” during certain situations.
“He is a former KGB agent and he has studied how to manipulate people, how to affect people,” she said.
“So, he knew that I was a mother of three young children and one of the first things he mentioned to me was his relationship with his mother and how much he loved his mother and what it was like when he was a little boy.
“Clearly he was trying to butter me up. He’s trying to win favour. Very smiley. Very polite and total gentleman when I’m talking to him behind the scenes.”
But Ms Kelly said it was the opposite when she was invited to what she thought was a large group dinner which turned out to be just President Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“The three of us sat down and had tea, anyway in front of Modi he was more of the paternalistic, little chauvinistic man like, ‘oh look at you, we won’t even be able to concentrate on the tomorrow questions’.”
“(He) wasn’t trying to compliment me, he was trying to put me in my place, you know, again, another manipulation.
“And then when I had him on stage and I was really getting in his grill, in particular about Syria, he was angry and he was in my face.
“So he’s whatever he wants to be or whatever he thinks you need him to be in the moment.”