Former US Russia adviser recalls Putin’s distinctive smell – and says he needed glasses

Recent reports suggest the Russia leader may be ‘seriously ill’

Gino Spocchia
Wednesday 18 May 2022 17:35 EDT

Related video: Footage resurfaces of Putin ‘shaking uncontrollably’ during Lukashenko meeting

Russian analyst and Donald Trump ‘s former adviser Fiona Hill has revealed new details about her past encounters with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

The foreign affairs specialist, who also served under US presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama, told the BBC’s Desert Island Discs programme about her meetings with Mr Putin, Russia’s president.

“I was seated next to him and I thought, ‘Why am I sitting next to him?’, is it because they think I’m ‘M’ like Judi Dench,” said Ms Hill, in reference to the fictional head of Britain’s intelligence service, MI6 .

“I took in the suits, one of the finely tailored suits, the way that the little vein pulses on the left-hand side of his face,” she added.

Ms Hill, who has recently accused Mr Trump of emboldening Mr Putin on the issue of Ukraine, continued by recalling the “very expensive watch” warn by Mr Putin, as well as his apparent need for glasses.

“[He] really could have done with glasses,” she told the listeners of cards detailing everybody’s name. “I could read them all, cards telling him who was who and what he should say and things like this.”

She said: “Now, this sounds really bizarre, but I could smell that he was freshly laundered. He wasn’t wearing cologne, but it was almost like he had stepped out of some special preparatory bath or something, into the moment.”

“All of this is staged. Every little element of this is staged. This is a performance,” she also recalled.

It was unclear when the meeting took place exactly, although Ms Hill said it occurred when she was working at the US national intelligence officer from 2006 to 2009.

Reports have more recently suggested that Mr Putin has become “quite seriously ill”, as former British spy Christopher Steele told Sky News at the weekend.

“Certainly, from what we’re hearing from sources in Russia and elsewhere, is that Putin is, in fact, quite seriously ill,” he said. Russia has denied such claims.

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