President Trump and Vladimir Putin met one-on-one in Helsinki for more than two hours on Monday, more than 30 minutes longer the planned. We may never know exactly what they talked about, because the two men spoke accompanied only by translators, without the aid of an official note taker. But does Putin speak English, even if he uses a translator in meetings?
Does Putin speak English?
So, does Putin speak English? We know that Trump doesn’t speak any Russian. As a former top Russian intelligence official, it’s plausible that Putin would know some English. And he does have enough of a command of the language to correct his own translators, a Kremlin spokesman said in 2017.
“In free discourse, at the sidelines of summits, he often speaks in English by himself,” Dmitry Peskov told state-run Rossiya 1 TV after the G20 summit that year. “But during negotiations and when he is conducting an official meeting, of course he communicates, through a translator.”
“However he practically understands English completely and sometimes even corrects the translators,” said Peskov. “A translator will always have a crisis moment. I worked as a translator at a high level myself, which is why I am familiar with the stress of it.”
Although Putin understands English, it’s unclear whether he’s fluent. “Putin reportedly struggles with English and rarely speaks it in public,” says the UK Express.
Putin is fluent in German, which he picked up for his KGB post in East Germany in the ’80s. “It has been suggested that Putin is not completely comfortable communicating in English in public, but is happy to speak in German during official meetings,” the UK Sun reports.
During his interviews with Oliver Stone in 2017’s “The Putin Interviews,” Putin utilized a translator and responded to questions in Russian but was filmed saying a few expressions in English.
In 2013, CNN ran a clip of Putin speaking briefly in heavily accented English.
Does Putin speak English? Watch him speak briefly in English below
But there is no evidence that Putin grasps English as well as French President Emmanuel Macron, who delivered a long address to Congress in English during his state visit earlier this year.