Russian President Vladimir Putin became so enraged during a shouting match with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko that he revealed he was lying about Russia’s role in a military uprising in eastern Ukraine, former French President Francois Hollande wrote in a book about his time in office.
In 2014, Russia illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine and began to support separatists in the eastern part of the country through information warfare, direct shipments of weapons, and by deploying non-uniformed Russian fighters posing as Ukrainians.
Experts watching the campaign, which Russian said was not its doing, branded it a new form of conflict called “hybrid warfare.” The strategy involves multi-domain fighting, economic pressure, and total distortion of facts on the ground.
But in a heated argument with Poroshenko at the 2015 talks to form the Minsk Agreement, a document that sought to end the conflict but which Russia has yet to implement, Putin became so angry he reportedly tripped himself up himself.
“Poroshenko and Putin constantly raised their voices with each other. The Russian president was so worked up, that he started threatening to decisively crush his counterpart’s forces,” an excerpt from Hollande’s 2018 book “The Lessons of Power” reads, as UAWire.org notes.
“This showed that there are Russian troops in eastern Ukraine. Putin suddenly realized, and got a grip on himself,” Hollande wrote.
But even after Putin got ahold of himself, his narrative continued to unravel, Hollande wrote.
In Minsk, Poroshenko asserted Ukraine’s sovereignty as its leader. Putin would not admit to leading the separatist forces, and constantly had to frame his contributions to the conversation as speculation on what the separatists might say, if they were there.
Hollande wrote that Putin tried to delay the ceasefire between the fighting sides for weeks. When Hollande and Poroshenko brought up that Russia had been sanctioned as result of the fighting, and not a nebulous group of unnamed fighters, Putin “pretended not to understand or not to hear what we were saying.”
“At seven in the morning after a sleepless night,” both sides finally struck a deal that Putin could agree to. But Putin, maintaining he wasn’t in control of the separatists, had to run off, Hollande wrote.
“Suddenly Putin said that he needed to consult with the separatist leaders. Their emissaries were in Minsk too. Where exactly? In some hotel or in an office neighboring ours? At least we didn’t see them,” wrote Hollande.
To this day the crisis in eastern Ukraine continues, with more than 10,000 dead so far. Russia still denies any official involvement in the fighting and remains under the sanctions imposed in 2014.