Vladimir Putin "feels invincible" after launching the invasion of Ukraine, according to a body language expert.
That is despite the so-called "special military operation" suffering setback after setback since it was launched in February 2022.
The Daily Star asked body language expert Inbaal Honigman to analyse clips of the Russian President from before and after the war in Ukraine started. She explained the two sets of videos showed "a very different man".
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Inbaal told the Daily Star that ex-KGB officer Putin is a tricky man to analyse. She said: "His facial expressions give nothing away.
"He has more control over his own body language than the average person and his face is neutral most of the time.
"In addition, his shoulders are strong, square and confident nearly every time we see him, and his arms move naturally by his sides."
Inbaal said his "controlled" manner tells us he's "controlled on the inside too". But she was able to pinpoint some differences between the two sets of clips.
"It's his hands that do the talking when comparing his gestures before and after the Ukraine invasion," she said.
In the clips from before February 2022 – which included Putin meeting Donald Trump in 2019 as well as his New Year's speech from that same year – Inbaal noted how his "hands clench involuntarily every so often".
She explained: "This is a show of frustration and we can see it quite frequently. He'll make a quick fist then release his hands again.
"Even though his face remains the same, his facial expression unchanged, those clenching hands tell us that he's angry a lot of the time.
"We also catch him sniffing his nose frequently, which expresses disgust. Those motions are very quick, almost imperceptible, but they are there."
The second group of clips included Putin's address announcing the "special military operation" in February 2022, his State of the Nation speech earlier this year where he blamed the West for the conflict, as well as his response to the Wagner Group uprising in June.
Inbaal said "we see a whole new Putin" post February 2022.
She explained: "Almost every time he addresses a camera he places his hands on the table in front of him, palms down. This is a power move and shows that he feels strong, powerful and invincible. He is in control and he enjoys being in control. When he places his hands in front of him and leans forward a bit, he sets himself as the lead person in the conversation.
"There are wobbles of course, and the hand clenching returns at times, but much less frequently.
"Post the invasion of Ukraine, the Russian President displays the body language of strength, confidence and leadership. He comes across as if he feels that the invasion is entirely justified, and it appears to have soothed his frustration."
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