Vladimir Putin: who is the President of Russia who ordered the invasion of Ukraine?

 Vladimir Putin: who is the President of Russia who ordered the invasion of Ukraine?

Russian President Vladimir Putin may have shocked the world with his invasion of Ukraine, the biggest step he has taken since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, but he has never hidden his determination to restore Russian influence over his Ukrainian neighbor.

Putin has been in power since 2000, holding the positions of president and prime minister, and is currently the longest-serving Russian leader since Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, who died in 1953.

A controversial referendum on constitutional reforms was held in 2020, which allowed President Putin to stay in office after the end of his fourth presidential term in 2024, which means that he could stay in the Kremlin until 2036.

But how he got to his current position Below we will examine the political and personal life of a leader around whom opinions are divided and whose name is currently making headlines in newspapers around the world.

Former spy

Putin's critics say he still has some Soviet-era traits that shaped his worldview.

Putin worked as a spy in the infamous Soviet intelligence agency, known as the "KGB," before quickly rising to his star amid the chaos of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Many of his assistants and close friends are connected or have been associated in the past with intelligence work.

Putin's political path began in the early 90s, when he worked as one of the main assistants to Anatoly Sobchak, then the mayor of St. Petersburg, who was previously one of Putin's professors at the University.

In 1997, Putin came to the Kremlin as the director of the federal security agency "FSB" (the main department that succeeded the KGB), and he was soon appointed prime minister.

On New Year's Eve 1999, former Russian President Boris Yeltsin resigned, and Putin was appointed acting president.

Since then, Putin has remained in power, although he was forced to hold the post of prime minister between 2008 and 2012 when the Russian Constitution prohibited him from being re-elected for a third presidential term.

Putin returned to power by winning the 2012 elections with more than 66% of the vote amid accusations of falsifying the election results.

Putin restored the pomposity and grandeur of military parades held in Soviet times, and images of Stalin also began to reappear after they were banned.

Even the Russian-made covid-19 vaccine was named "Sputnik V" in honor of the Soviet Sputnik satellite, which became the world's first artificial satellite in 1957.

Putin called the collapse of the USSR "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the (twentieth) century", and since 1997 he has repeatedly criticized the expansion of NATO to the borders of Russia.

Cold relations with the West

Previous tensions between Russia and Ukraine and Moscow's intervention in the Syrian civil war in support of President Bashar Al-Assad have again raised Western suspicions about Putin.

The coldness of relations between the parties imitated those that characterized them during the Cold War of the twentieth century, with the exception of relations between Washington and Moscow under the presidency of Donald, who publicly expressed admiration for his Russian counterpart.

His successor, President Joe Biden, called Putin a "killer".

Male image

President Putin seems to appreciate his courageous image, which has manifested itself during some of his campaign tours, such as a trip to Chechnya by fighter jet in 2000 or a visit to the Russian Cycling Festival on the shores of the Black Sea in 2011.

But the Russian media have also highlighted Putin's more tender side, showing videos in which he hugs his dogs and helps take care of the endangered Amur tigers.

According to a poll conducted by the Russian Levada center in February 2021, 48% of Russians would like Putin to remain president after 2024.

Many Western politicians would probably envy Putin in this percentage, but it would probably indicate that many simply consider Putin a safe bet.

Putin scored political points for his success in maintaining relative stability in Russia after the chaos that followed the collapse of communism in the 90s of the last century.

In addition to restoring his country's sense of national dignity, Putin has also allowed the middle class to prosper, even though Moscow continues to dominate the economy and rural areas are still very poor.

Riots inside

Putin's popularity among older Russian citizens is much higher compared to his popularity among young people. A younger generation has grown up during his reign and many of them seem to yearn for change.

In January 2021, thousands of young Russians demonstrated across the country to support Alexei Navalny, Putin's archenemy, who was arrested on his return from Berlin.

Navalny became famous for exposing the scale of corruption in the country, calling Putin's "United Russia" party "a party of crooks and thieves".

The demonstrations that took place at the time were among the largest demonstrations in Russia in previous years. The police suppressed it, arresting thousands of people.

Navalny, who is currently in prison due to his poor health, was convicted in an old embezzlement case that caused controversy and caused another split in Putin's relations with the West.

In August 2021, Navalny almost died as a result of an attack with a toxic nerve substance "Novichok", in which Western governments directly accused the FSB (Federal security service) of Putin.

The Russian Novochok weapon was used to poison former Russian intelligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in England in 2018.

Putin denies his involvement in these and other attacks on prominent political opponents.

Difficult childhood

Vladimir Putin grew up in an apartment building in the exuberant residential area of Leningrad, which later became St. Petersburg, and often quarreled with taller and more influential local boys.

According to the Kremlin's website, Putin wanted to work for the KGB "even before he graduated".

In October 2015, Putin said: "Fifty years ago, the streets of Leningrad taught me the rule that if the battle is not mandatory, you must strike the first blow.

Putin used the foul language of street fighters to defend his military offensive against separatist rebels in Chechnya, promising to crush them and pursue them everywhere, "even in the toilet".

Heavy fighting, which lasted from 1999 to 2000, devastated the Muslim-majority Chechen Republic located in the North Caucasus region and claimed the lives of thousands of civilians.

Georgia was another hot spot for Putin. In 2008, his troops drove the Georgian army out of the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

It was a very personal conflict with Georgian President pronatov Mikhail Saakashvili and demonstrated Putin's willingness to act to undermine the power of Pro-Western leaders in the countries of the former Soviet Union.

His billionaire friends

The entourage of the Russian president is an elite of large wealthy people and it is believed that he himself owns a huge fortune. Putin managed to keep his family and financial affairs out of sight.

The leaks of The "Panama Papers" of 2016 revealed a suspicious network of foreign companies belonging to the Russian cellist Sergei Roldugin, a longtime friend of Putin.

In 2013, Putin announced the divorce from his wife Lyudmila after a marriage that lasted about 30 years. His ex-wife called him a workaholic.

According to the Reuters news agency, one of Putin's daughters, Katerina, holds a management position at Moscow State University and is also a dancer participating in Rock and roll acrobatic shows.

As for Maria, Putin's eldest daughter, she is an academic specializing in the field of Endocrinology.

Exclusion of Liberals

The Russian media, whose coverage is characterized by the president's support, is dominated by patriotism, corresponding to Putin's perception, and therefore it is impossible to assess the true scale of the opposition.

During his first and second presidential terms, Russia's large oil and gas revenues, which are the main components of Russian exports, strengthened Putin's position.

The living conditions of most Russian citizens have improved. But the price, according to many, was the erosion of the nascent democracy in Russia.

But after the global financial crisis of 2008, the Russian economy suffered from weakness, stagnation, and then the decline in oil prices in recent years.

Russia has lost many foreign investors and has lost billions of dollars due to capital flight.

President Putin's rule is characterized by conservative Russian nationalism, has strong echoes of the tsarist dictatorship, and is supported by the Orthodox Church.

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