“It’s hard to see what he’s doing,” said John Kirby.
In a rare show of sentiment at the Pentagon, Press Secretary John Kirby fell silent during a Friday briefing with reporters on Russian President Vladimir Putin and alleged Russian atrocities in Ukraine.
It all started when Kirby was asked if he thought Putin was a “rational actor.”
“It’s hard to see what he’s doing in Ukraine, what his armed forces are doing in Ukraine and to think that any ethically and morally minded person could justify going off to rally.
After eight seconds of silence behind the podium, he continued.
“Sorry,” he said. “It’s difficult to look at some of the images and imagine that any thoughtful, serious, mature leader would do that. So I can’t speak to his psychology, but I think we can all speak to his depravity.”
Later in the briefing he apologized for the charged moment.
“I didn’t mean to get emotional, I apologize for that. I don’t want to do this about me. But I’ve been in the military a long time and I know friends who haven’t done it back. It’s just hard,” Kirby said.
Kirby then redoubled his attack on Putin and the brutality he said was carried out by his military — allegations the Russians deny — his demeanor visibly shifted from sad to outraged.
“It’s hard to reconcile his, let’s just call it, his BS – that this is about Nazism in Ukraine, and it’s about protecting Russians in Ukraine, and it’s about national interests defending Russia when none of them, none of them were threatened by Ukraine,” he said, banging the podium with his right hand to underline the last words.
“It’s hard to reconcile that rhetoric with what he’s actually doing to innocent people in Ukraine. Shot in the back of the head, hands tied behind his back. Women, pregnant women are killed. Hospitals are bombed. I mean it’s just unscrupulous. And I don’t know… I don’t have the mental capacity to understand how you connect those two things. It’s just about me,” he said.
He ended with a final apology.
“I’m just a speaker,” he said. “I’m not qualified to provide an assessment one way or another and I apologize for having to offer my personal perspective here.”