Putin, Flashing Disdain, Defends Action in Crimea

March 5, 2014 6:29 AM

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Putin, Flashing Disdain, Defends Action in Crimea

MOSCOW — He sat alone in an armchair, alternately slouching, his legs spread wide in confidence, and squirming uncomfortably. He displayed flashes of sardonic wit, anger and palpable disdain, especially toward the Americans and Europeans but also toward the leaders of a country, Ukraine, he made clear was a political neophyte, unable to govern itself.

He demonstrated his characteristically uncanny grasp of detail in such matters as natural-gas pricing, but contradicted himself at times and wandered off into obscure historical digressions. He made assertions that were clearly exaggerated or, less charitably, clearly not true.

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