Vladimir Putin

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Vladimir Putin
Владимир Путин
Federal Security Service
In office
25 July 1998 – 29 March 1999
PresidentBoris Yeltsin
Preceded byNikolay Kovalyov
Succeeded byNikolai Patrushev
First Deputy Chief of the Presidential Administration
In office
25 May 1998 – 24 July 1998
PresidentBoris Yeltsin
Deputy Chief of the Presidential Administration — Head of the Main Supervisory Department
In office
26 March 1997 – 24 May 1998
PresidentBoris Yeltsin
Preceded byAlexei Kudrin
Succeeded byNikolai Patrushev
Additional positions
Leader of All-Russia People's Front
Assumed office
12 June 2013
Preceded byOffice established
Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Union State
In office
27 May 2008 – 18 July 2012
Chairman of the
Council of State
Alexander Lukashenko
General SecretaryPavel Borodin
Preceded byViktor Zubkov
Succeeded byDmitry Medvedev
Leader of United Russia
In office
7 May 2008 – 26 May 2012
Preceded byBoris Gryzlov
Succeeded byDmitry Medvedev
Personal details
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin

(1952-10-07) 7 October 1952 (age 70)
Lyudmila Shkrebneva
(m. 1983; div. 2014)
Military service
Allegiance Soviet Union
  • Supreme Commander-in-Chief
  • Syrian Civil War
  • Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin[c] (born 7 October 1952) is a Russian politician, former intelligence officer and fugitive wanted on war crimes charges, serving as the current president of Russia. Putin has served continuously as president or prime minister since 1999:[d] as prime minister from 1999 to 2000 and from 2008 to 2012, and as president from 2000 to 2008 and since 2012.[e][7]

    Putin worked as a

    lieutenant colonel before resigning in 1991 to begin a political career in Saint Petersburg. He moved to Moscow in 1996 to join the administration of president Boris Yeltsin. He briefly served as director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and secretary of the Security Council of Russia, before being appointed prime minister in August 1999. After the resignation of Yeltsin, Putin became acting president and, less than four months later, was elected outright to his first term as president. He was reelected in 2004. Because he was constitutionally limited to two consecutive terms as president, Putin served as prime minister again from 2008 to 2012 under Dmitry Medvedev. He returned to the presidency in 2012, in an election marred by allegations of fraud and protests, and was reelected in 2018. In April 2021, after a referendum, he signed into law constitutional amendments including one that would allow him to run for reelection twice more, potentially extending his presidency to 2036.[8][9]

    During Putin's first tenure as president, the


    of Belarus.

    Early life

    Putin was born on 7 October 1952 in Leningrad, Soviet Union (now Saint Petersburg, Russia),[22][23] the youngest of three children of Vladimir Spiridonovich Putin (1911–1999) and Maria Ivanovna Putina (née Shelomova; 1911–1998). His grandfather, Spiridon Putin (1879–1965), was a personal cook to Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin.[24][25] Putin's birth was preceded by the deaths of two brothers: Albert, born in the 1930s, died in infancy, and Viktor, born in 1940, died of diphtheria and starvation in 1942 during the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi Germany's forces in World War II.[26][27]

    Putin's mother, Maria Shelomova

    Putin's mother was a factory worker and his father was a

    destruction battalion of the NKVD.[28][29][30] Later, he was transferred to the regular army and was severely wounded in 1942.[31] Putin's maternal grandmother was killed by the German occupiers of Tver region in 1941, and his maternal uncles disappeared on the Eastern Front during World War II.[32]


    On 1 September 1960, Putin started at School No. 193 at Baskov Lane, near his home. He was one of a few in his class of about 45 pupils who were not yet members of the

    Young Pioneer organization. At age 12, he began to practise sambo and judo.[33] In his free time, he enjoyed reading the works of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Lenin.[34] Putin studied German at Saint Petersburg High School 281 and speaks German as a second language.[35]

    Putin studied law at the Leningrad State University named after Andrei Zhdanov (now Saint Petersburg State University) in 1970 and graduated in 1975.[36] His thesis was on "The Most Favored Nation Trading Principle in International Law".[37] While there, he was required to join the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU); he would remain a member until it ceased to exist in 1991.[38]

    Putin met

    Russian constitution and of corruption schemes in France. Putin would be influential in Sobchak's career in Saint Petersburg, and Sobchak would be influential in Putin's career in Moscow.[39]

    In 1997, he received his Ph.D. in economics (Candidate of Economic Sciences) at the Saint Petersburg Mining University for a thesis on the strategic planning of the mineral economy.[40]

    KGB career

    In 1975, Putin joined the KGB and trained at the 401st KGB School in Okhta, Leningrad.[22][41] After training, he worked in the Second Chief Directorate (counterintelligence), before he was transferred to the First Chief Directorate, where he monitored foreigners and consular officials in Leningrad.[22][42][43] In September 1984, Putin was sent to Moscow for further training at the Yuri Andropov Red Banner Institute.[44][45][46]

    Putin in the KGB
    , c. 1980

    Multiple reports have suggested Putin was sent by the KGB to New Zealand, corroborated through New Zealand eyewitness accounts and government records. This has never been confirmed by Russian security services. Former Waitākere City mayor Bob Harvey and former Prime Minister David Lange alleged that Putin served in Wellington and Auckland.[47] He allegedly worked for some time undercover as a Bata shoe salesman in central Wellington.[47][48][49]

    From 1985 to 1990, he served in

    press clippings, thus contributing to the mountains of useless information produced by the KGB", Russian-American Masha Gessen wrote in their 2012 biography of Putin.[51] His work was also downplayed by former Stasi spy chief Markus Wolf and Putin's former KGB colleague Vladimir Usoltsev. Journalist Catherine Belton wrote in 2020 that this downplaying was actually cover for Putin's involvement in KGB coordination and support for the terrorist Red Army Faction, whose members frequently hid in East Germany with the support of the Stasi. Dresden was preferred as a "marginal" town with only a small presence of Western intelligence services.[52]

    According to an anonymous source, a former RAF member, at one of these meetings in Dresden the militants presented Putin with a list of weapons that were later delivered to the RAF in West Germany. Klaus Zuchold, who claimed to be recruited by Putin, said that Putin handled a neo-Nazi, Rainer Sonntag, and attempted to recruit an author of a study on poisons.[52] Putin reportedly met Germans to be recruited for wireless communications affairs together with an interpreter. He was involved in wireless communications technologies in South-East Asia due to trips of German engineers, recruited by him, there and to the West.[43]

    According to Putin's official biography, during the fall of the Berlin Wall that began on 9 November 1989, he saved the files of the Soviet Cultural Center (House of Friendship) and of the KGB villa in Dresden for the official authorities of the would-be united Germany to prevent demonstrators, including KGB and Stasi agents, from obtaining and destroying them. He then supposedly burnt only the KGB files, in a few hours, but saved the archives of the Soviet Cultural Center for the German authorities. Nothing is told about the selection criteria during this burning; for example, concerning Stasi files or about files of other agencies of the German Democratic Republic or of the USSR. He explained that many documents were left to Germany only because the furnace burst but many documents of the KGB villa were sent to Moscow.[53]

    After the

    collapse of the Communist East German government, Putin was to resign from active KGB service because of suspicions aroused regarding his loyalty during demonstrations in Dresden and earlier, though the KGB and the Soviet Army still operated in eastern Germany. He returned to Leningrad in early 1990 as a member of the "active reserves", where he worked for about three months with the International Affairs section of Leningrad State University, reporting to Vice-Rector Yuriy Molchanov, while working on his doctoral dissertation.[43]

    There, he looked for new KGB recruits, watched the student body, and renewed his friendship with his former professor, Anatoly Sobchak, soon to be the Mayor of Leningrad.[54] Putin claims that he resigned with the rank of lieutenant colonel on 20 August 1991,[54] on the second day of the 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt against the Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.[55] Putin said: "As soon as the coup began, I immediately decided which side I was on", although he noted that the choice was hard because he had spent the best part of his life with "the organs".[56]

    Political career

    1990–1996: Saint Petersburg administration

    In May 1990, Putin was appointed as an advisor on international affairs to the mayor of Leningrad

    taxi driver to earn extra money, or considered such a job.[58][59]

    On 28 June 1991, he became head of the Committee for External Relations of the Mayor's Office, with responsibility for promoting international relations and foreign investments[61] and registering business ventures. Within a year, Putin was investigated by the city legislative council led by Marina Salye. It was concluded that he had understated prices and permitted the export of metals valued at $93 million in exchange for foreign food aid that never arrived.[62][36] Despite the investigators' recommendation that Putin be fired, Putin remained head of the Committee for External Relations until 1996.[63][64] From 1994 to 1996, he held several other political and governmental positions in Saint Petersburg.[65]

    In March 1994, Putin was appointed as first deputy chairman of the Government of Saint Petersburg. In May 1995, he organized the Saint Petersburg branch of the pro-government Our Home – Russia political party, the liberal party of power founded by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. In 1995, he managed the legislative election campaign for that party, and from 1995 through June 1997, he was the leader of its Saint Petersburg branch.[65]

    1996–1999: Early Moscow career

    In June 1996, Sobchak lost his bid for reelection in Saint Petersburg, and Putin, who had led his election campaign, resigned from his positions in the city administration. He moved to Moscow and was appointed as deputy chief of the Presidential Property Management Department headed by Pavel Borodin. He occupied this position until March 1997. He was responsible for the foreign property of the state and organized the transfer of the former assets of the Soviet Union and the CPSU to the Russian Federation.[39]

    On 26 March 1997, President

    Presidential Staff, a post which he retained until May 1998, and chief of the Main Control Directorate of the Presidential Property Management Department (until June 1998). His predecessor in this position was Alexei Kudrin and his successor was Nikolai Patrushev, both future prominent politicians and Putin's associates.[39] On 3 April 1997, Putin was promoted to 1st class Active State Councillor of the Russian Federation — the highest federal state civilian service rank.[66]

    On 27 June 1997, at the

    plagiarized.[69] Fellows at the Brookings Institution found that 15 pages were copied from an American textbook.[70][71]

    On 25 May 1998, Putin was appointed First Deputy Chief of the

    Presidential Staff for the regions, in succession to Viktoriya Mitina. On 15 July, he was appointed head of the commission for the preparation of agreements on the delimitation of the power of the regions and head of the federal center attached to the president, replacing Sergey Shakhray. After Putin's appointment, the commission completed no such agreements, although during Shakhray's term as the head of the Commission 46 such agreements had been signed.[72] Later, after becoming president, Putin cancelled all 46 agreements.[39]

    On 25 July 1998, Yeltsin appointed Putin

    director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the primary intelligence and security organization of the Russian Federation and the successor to the KGB.[73]

    In 1999, Putin described communism as "a blind alley, far away from the mainstream of civilization".[74]

    1999: First premiership

    On 9 August 1999, Putin was appointed one of three first deputy prime ministers, and later on that day, was appointed acting prime minister of the Government of the Russian Federation by President Yeltsin.[75] Yeltsin also announced that he wanted to see Putin as his successor. Later on that same day, Putin agreed to run for the presidency.[76]

    On 16 August, the State Duma approved his appointment as prime minister with 233 votes in favor (vs. 84 against, 17 abstained),[77] while a simple majority of 226 was required, making him Russia's fifth prime minister in fewer than eighteen months. On his appointment, few expected Putin, virtually unknown to the general public, to last any longer than his predecessors. He was initially regarded as a Yeltsin loyalist; like other prime ministers of Boris Yeltsin, Putin did not choose ministers himself, his cabinet was determined by the presidential administration.[78]

    Yeltsin's main opponents and would-be successors were already campaigning to replace the ailing president, and they fought hard to prevent Putin's emergence as a potential successor. Following the September 1999

    law-and-order image and unrelenting approach to the Second Chechen War
    soon combined to raise his popularity and allowed him to overtake his rivals.

    While not formally associated with any party, Putin pledged his support to the newly formed Unity Party,[79] which won the second largest percentage of the popular vote (23.3%) in the December 1999 Duma elections, and in turn supported Putin.

    1999–2000: Acting presidency

    On 31 December 1999, Yeltsin unexpectedly resigned and, according to the

    Acting President of the Russian Federation. On assuming this role, Putin went on a previously scheduled visit to Russian troops in Chechnya.[80]

    The first presidential decree that Putin signed on 31 December 1999 was titled "On guarantees for the former president of the Russian Federation and the members of his family".[81][82] This ensured that "corruption charges against the outgoing President and his relatives" would not be pursued.[83] This was most notably targeted at the Mabetex bribery case in which Yeltsin's family members were involved. On 30 August 2000, a criminal investigation (number 18/238278-95) in which Putin himself,[84][85] as a member of the Saint Petersburg city government, was one of the suspects, was dropped.

    On 30 December 2000, yet another case against the prosecutor general was dropped "for lack of evidence", despite thousands of documents having been forwarded by Swiss prosecutors.[86] On 12 February 2001, Putin signed a similar federal law which replaced the decree of 1999. A case regarding Putin's alleged corruption in metal exports from 1992 was brought back by Marina Salye, but she was silenced and forced to leave Saint Petersburg.[87]

    While his opponents had been preparing for an election in June 2000, Yeltsin's resignation resulted in the presidential elections being held on 26 March 2000; Putin won in the first round with 53% of the vote.[88][89]

    2000–2004: First presidential term

    Putin taking the presidential oath beside Boris Yeltsin
    , May 2000

    The inauguration of President Putin occurred on 7 May 2000. He appointed the minister of finance, Mikhail Kasyanov, as prime minister.[90] The first major challenge to Putin's popularity came in August 2000, when he was criticized for the alleged mishandling of the Kursk submarine disaster.[91] That criticism was largely because it took several days for Putin to return from vacation, and several more before he visited the scene.[91]

    Between 2000 and 2004, Putin set about the reconstruction of the impoverished condition of the country, apparently winning a power-struggle with the

    Russian oligarchs, reaching a 'grand bargain' with them. This bargain allowed the oligarchs to maintain most of their powers, in exchange for their explicit support for—and alignment with—Putin's government.[92][93]

    The Moscow theater hostage crisis occurred in October 2002. Many in the Russian press and in the international media warned that the deaths of 130 hostages in the special forces' rescue operation during the crisis would severely damage President Putin's popularity. However, shortly after the siege had ended, the Russian president enjoyed record public approval ratings—83% of Russians declared themselves satisfied with Putin and his handling of the siege.[94]

    In 2003, a referendum was held in Chechnya, adopting a new constitution which declares that the Republic of Chechnya is a part of Russia; on the other hand, the region did acquire autonomy.[95] Chechnya has been gradually stabilized with the establishment of the Parliamentary elections and a Regional Government.[96][97] Throughout the Second Chechen War, Russia severely disabled the Chechen rebel movement; however, sporadic attacks by rebels continued to occur throughout the northern Caucasus.[98]

    2004–2008: Second presidential term

    Putin with Junichiro Koizumi, Jacques Chirac, Gerhard Schröder, George W. Bush and other state leaders in Moscow during the Victory Day parade, 9 May 2005[99]

    On 14 March 2004,

    Beslan school hostage crisis took place on 1–3 September 2004; more than 330 people died, including 186 children.[101]

    The near 10-year period prior to the rise of Putin after the dissolution of Soviet rule was a time of upheaval in Russia.

    The continued criminal prosecution of the wealthiest man in Russia at the time, president of Yukos oil and gas company Mikhail Khodorkovsky, for fraud and tax evasion was seen by the international press as a retaliation for Khodorkovsky's donations to both liberal and communist opponents of the Kremlin.[108] Khodorkovsky was arrested, Yukos was bankrupted, and the company's assets were auctioned at below-market value, with the largest share acquired by the state company Rosneft.[109] The fate of Yukos was seen as a sign of a broader shift of Russia towards a system of state capitalism.[110][111] This was underscored in July 2014, when shareholders of Yukos were awarded $50 billion in compensation by the Permanent Arbitration Court in The Hague.[112]

    On 7 October 2006, Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist who exposed corruption in the Russian army and its conduct in Chechnya, was shot in the lobby of her apartment building, on Putin's birthday. The death of Politkovskaya triggered international criticism, with accusations that Putin had failed to protect the country's new independent media.[113][114] Putin himself said that her death caused the government more problems than her writings.[115]

    In a January 2007 meeting with

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel at his Black Sea residence in Sochi, two weeks after Russia switched off oil supplies to Germany, Putin brought his black Labrador Konni in front of Merkel, who has a noted phobia of dogs and looked visibly uncomfortable in its presence, adding "I'm sure it will behave itself"; causing a furor among the German press corps.[116][117] Being asked about the incident in a January 2016 interview with Bild, Putin claimed he was not aware of her phobia, adding "I wanted to make her happy. When I found out that she did not like dogs, I of course apologized."[118]
    Merkel later told a group of reporters:

    I understand why he has to do this — to prove he's a man. He's afraid of his own weakness. Russia has nothing, no successful politics or economy. All they have is this.[117]
    In a January 2007 meeting with Angela Merkel, Putin brought in his Labrador in front of the German Chancellor, who has a phobia of dogs

    In February 2007, at the Munich Security Conference Putin complained about the feeling of insecurity engendered by the dominant position in geopolitics of the United States, and observed that a former NATO official had made rhetorical promises not to expand into new countries in Eastern Europe.

    On 14 July 2007, Putin announced that Russia would

    Adapted CFE Treaty, and demanding that the four alliance members outside the original treaty, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovenia, join it."[120]

    In early 2007, "Dissenters' Marches" were organized by the opposition group The Other Russia,[122] led by former chess champion Garry Kasparov and national-Bolshevist leader Eduard Limonov. Following prior warnings, demonstrations in several Russian cities were met by police action, which included interfering with the travel of the protesters and the arrests of as many as 150 people who attempted to break through police lines.[123]

    On 12 September 2007, Putin dissolved the government upon the request of Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov. Fradkov commented that it was to give the President a "free hand" in the run-up to the parliamentary election. Viktor Zubkov was appointed the new prime minister.[124]

    In December 2007, United Russia—the governing party that supports the policies of Putin—won 64.24% of the popular vote in their run for State Duma according to election preliminary results.[125] United Russia's victory in the December 2007 elections was seen by many as an indication of strong popular support of the then Russian leadership and its policies.[126][127]

    2008–2012: Second premiership

    Putin was barred from a third consecutive term by the

    power-switching operation on 8 May 2008, only a day after handing the presidency to Medvedev, Putin was appointed Prime Minister of Russia, maintaining his political dominance.[128]

    Putin has said that overcoming the consequences of the world economic crisis was one of the two main achievements of his second premiership.[107] The other was stabilizing the size of Russia's population between 2008 and 2011 following a long period of demographic collapse that began in the 1990s.[107]

    At the United Russia Congress in Moscow on 24 September 2011, Medvedev officially proposed that Putin stand for the presidency in 2012, an offer Putin accepted. Given United Russia's near-total dominance of Russian politics, many observers believed that Putin was assured of a third term. The move was expected to see Medvedev stand on the United Russia ticket in the parliamentary elections in December, with a goal of becoming prime minister at the end of his presidential term.[129]

    After the

    protests against alleged electoral fraud, the largest protests in Putin's time. Protesters criticized Putin and United Russia and demanded annulment of the election results.[130] Those protests sparked the fear of a colour revolution in society.[131] Putin allegedly organized a number of paramilitary groups loyal to himself and to the United Russia party in the period between 2005 and 2012.[132]

    2012–2018: Third presidential term

    On 24 September 2011, while speaking at the United Russia party congress, Medvedev announced that he would recommend the party nominate Putin as its presidential candidate. He also revealed that the two men had long ago cut a deal to allow Putin to run for president in 2012.[133] This switch was termed by many in the media as "Rokirovka", the Russian term for the chess move "castling".[134]

    On 4 March 2012, Putin won the 2012 Russian presidential election in the first round, with 63.6% of the vote, despite widespread accusations of vote-rigging.[135][136][137] Opposition groups accused Putin and the United Russia party of fraud.[138] While efforts to make the elections transparent were publicized, including the usage of webcams in polling stations, the vote was criticized by the Russian opposition and by international observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe for procedural irregularities.[139]

    Anti-Putin protests took place during and directly after the presidential campaign. The most notorious protest was the Pussy Riot performance on 21 February, and subsequent trial.[140] An estimated 8,000–20,000 protesters gathered in Moscow on 6 May,[141][142] when eighty people were injured in confrontations with police,[143] and 450 were arrested, with another 120 arrests taking place the following day.[144] A counter-protest of Putin supporters occurred which culminated in a gathering of an estimated 130,000 supporters at the Luzhniki Stadium, Russia's largest stadium.[145] Some of the attendees stated that they had been paid to come, were forced to come by their employers, or were misled into believing that they were going to attend a folk festival instead.[146][147][148] The rally is considered to be the largest in support of Putin to date.[149]

    Putin at a bilateral meeting with U.S. president Barack Obama during the G8 summit
    in Ireland, 17 June 2013

    Putin's presidency was

    relations with the European Union, the defense industry, inter-ethnic relations, and other policy areas dealt with in Putin's program articles issued during the presidential campaign.[151]

    In 2012 and 2013, Putin and the United Russia party backed stricter legislation against the

    rainbow flag,[152][153] as well as published works containing homosexual content) was adopted by the State Duma in June 2013.[154][155] Responding to international concerns about Russia's legislation, Putin asked critics to note that the law was a "ban on the propaganda of pedophilia and homosexuality" and he stated that homosexual visitors to the 2014 Winter Olympics should "leave the children in peace" but denied there was any "professional, career or social discrimination" against homosexuals in Russia.[156]

    In June 2013, Putin attended a televised rally of the

    Steve Rosenberg, the movement is intended to "reconnect the Kremlin to the Russian people" and one day, if necessary, replace the increasingly unpopular United Russia party that currently backs Putin.[159]

    Annexation of Crimea

    Putin in Normandy Format talks with Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president François Hollande
    , 17 October 2014

    In February 2014, Russia made several military incursions into Ukrainian territory. After the Euromaidan protests and the fall of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, Russian soldiers without insignias took control of strategic positions and infrastructure within the Ukrainian territory of Crimea. Russia then annexed Crimea and Sevastopol after a referendum in which, according to official results, Crimeans voted to join the Russian Federation.[160][161][162] Subsequently, demonstrations against Ukrainian Rada legislative actions by pro-Russian groups in the Donbas area of Ukraine escalated into the Russo-Ukrainian War between the Ukrainian government and the Russia-backed separatist forces of the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics. In August 2014,[163] Russian military vehicles crossed the border in several locations of Donetsk Oblast.[164][165][166] The incursion by the Russian military was seen by Ukrainian authorities as responsible for the defeat of Ukrainian forces in early September.[167][168]

    In October 2014,

    Valdai International Discussion Club

    In November 2014, the Ukrainian military reported intensive movement of troops and equipment from Russia into the separatist-controlled parts of eastern Ukraine.

    OSCE Special Monitoring Mission observed convoys of heavy weapons and tanks in DPR-controlled territory without insignia.[171] OSCE monitors further stated that they observed vehicles transporting ammunition and soldiers' dead bodies crossing the Russian-Ukrainian border under the guise of humanitarian-aid convoys.[172]

    As of early August 2015, the OSCE observed over 21 such vehicles marked with the Russian military code for soldiers killed in action.[173] According to The Moscow Times, Russia has tried to intimidate and silence human-rights workers discussing Russian soldiers' deaths in the conflict.[174] The OSCE repeatedly reported that its observers were denied access to the areas controlled by "combined Russian-separatist forces".[175]

    In October 2015, The Washington Post reported that Russia had redeployed some of its elite units from Ukraine to Syria in recent weeks to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.[176] In December 2015, Putin admitted that Russian military intelligence officers were operating in Ukraine.[177]

    The Moscow Times quoted pro-Russian academic Andrei Tsygankov as saying that many members of the international community assumed that Putin's annexation of Crimea had initiated a completely new kind of Russian foreign policy[178][179] and that his foreign policy had shifted "from state-driven foreign policy" to taking an offensive stance to recreate the Soviet Union. In July 2015, he opined that this policy shift could be understood as Putin trying to defend nations in Russia's sphere of influence from "encroaching western power".[180]

    Intervention in Syria

    Putin with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad
    in 2017

    On 30 September 2015, President Putin authorized Russian military intervention in the Syrian civil war, following a formal request by the Syrian government for military help against rebel and jihadist groups.[181]

    The Russian military activities consisted of air strikes, cruise missile strikes and the use of front line advisors and Russian special forces against militant groups opposed to the

    Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), al-Nusra Front (al-Qaeda in the Levant), Tahrir al-Sham, Ahrar al-Sham, and the Army of Conquest.[182][183] After Putin's announcement on 14 March 2016 that the mission he had set for the Russian military in Syria had been "largely accomplished" and ordered the withdrawal of the "main part" of the Russian forces from Syria,[184] Russian forces deployed in Syria continued to actively operate in support of the Syrian government.[185]

    Russia's interference in the 2016 US election

    In January 2017, a U.S. intelligence community assessment expressed high confidence that Putin personally ordered an influence campaign, initially to denigrate Hillary Clinton and to harm her electoral chances and potential presidency, then later developing "a clear preference" for Donald Trump.[186] Trump consistently denied any Russian interference in the U.S. election,[187][188][189] as did Putin in December 2016,[190] March 2017,[191] June 2017,[192][193][194] and July 2017.[195]

    Putin later stated that interference was "theoretically possible" and could have been perpetrated by "patriotically minded" Russian hackers,

    2020 U.S. presidential election.[199]

    2018–present: Fourth presidential term

    Putin and the newly appointed prime minister Mikhail Mishustin meeting with members of Mishustin's Cabinet
    , 21 January 2020

    Putin won the

    Crimean bridge.[204] On 18 May 2018, Putin signed decrees on the composition of the new Government.[205] On 25 May 2018, Putin announced that he would not run for president in 2024, justifying this in compliance with the Russian Constitution.[206] On 14 June 2018, Putin opened the 21st FIFA World Cup, which took place in Russia for the first time. On 18 October 2018, Putin said Russians will 'go to Heaven as martyrs' in the event of a nuclear war as he would only use nuclear weapons in retaliation.[207]
    In September 2019, Putin's administration interfered with the results of Russia's nationwide regional elections and manipulated it by eliminating all candidates in the opposition. The event that was aimed at contributing to the ruling party, United Russia's victory, also contributed to inciting mass protests for democracy, leading to large-scale arrests and cases of police brutality.[208]

    On 15 January 2020, Medvedev and his entire government resigned after Putin's 2020 Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly. Putin suggested major constitutional amendments that could extend his political power after presidency.[209][210] At the same time, on behalf of Putin, he continued to exercise his powers until the formation of a new government.[211] Putin suggested that Medvedev take the newly created post of deputy chairman of the Security Council.[212]

    On the same day, Putin nominated

    country's Federal Tax Service for the post of prime minister. The next day, he was confirmed by the State Duma to the post,[213][214] and appointed prime minister by Putin's decree.[215] This was the first time ever that a prime minister was confirmed without any votes against. On 21 January 2020, Mishustin presented to Putin a draft structure of his Cabinet. On the same day, the president signed a decree on the structure of the Cabinet and appointed the proposed ministers.[216][217][218]

    COVID-19 pandemic

    On 15 March 2020, Putin instructed to form a Working Group of the State Council to counteract the spread of coronavirus. Putin appointed Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin as the head of the group.[219]

    On 22 March 2020, after a phone call with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Putin arranged the Russian army to send military medics, special disinfection vehicles and other medical equipment to Italy, which was the European country hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.[220] Putin began working remotely from his office at Novo-Ogaryovo. According to Dmitry Peskov, Putin passes daily tests for coronavirus, and his health is not in danger.[221][222]

    On 25 March, President Putin announced in a televised address to the nation that the 22 April constitutional referendum would be postponed due to the coronavirus.[223] He added that the next week would be a nationwide paid holiday and urged Russians to stay at home.[224][225] Putin also announced a list of measures of social protection, support for small and medium-sized enterprises, and changes in fiscal policy.[226] Putin announced the following measures for microenterprises, small- and medium-sized businesses: deferring tax payments (except Russia's value-added tax) for the next six months, cutting the size of social security contributions in half, deferring social security contributions, deferring loan repayments for the next six months, a six-month moratorium on fines, debt collection, and creditors' applications for bankruptcy of debtor enterprises.[227][228]

    On 2 April 2020, Putin again issued an address in which he announced prolongation of the non-working time until 30 April.[229] Putin likened Russia's fight against COVID-19 to Russia's battles with invading Pecheneg and Cuman steppe nomads in the 10th and 11th centuries.[230] In a 24 to 27 April Levada poll, 48% of Russian respondents said that they disapproved of Putin's handling of the coronavirus pandemic,[231] and his strict isolation and lack of leadership during the crisis was widely commented as sign of losing his "strongman" image.[232][233]

    Putin's first deputy chief of staff Sergey Kiriyenko (left) is in charge of Russia's domestic politics.[234]

    In June 2021, Putin said he was fully vaccinated against the disease with the

    self-isolation after people in his inner circle tested positive for the disease.[236]

    According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Putin's inner circle of advisors shrank during the COVID-19 lockdown to a small number of hawkish advisers.[237]

    Constitutional referendum and amendments

    Putin signed an executive order on 3 July 2020 to officially insert amendments into the Russian Constitution, allowing him to run for two additional six-year terms. These amendments took effect on 4 July 2020.[238]

    Since 11 July, protests have been held in the

    2020 Khabarovsk Krai protests have become increasingly anti-Putin.[240][241] A July 2020 Levada poll found that 45% of surveyed Russians supported the protests.[242]

    On 22 December 2020, Putin signed a bill giving lifetime prosecutorial immunity to Russian ex-presidents.[243][244]

    Iran trade deal

    Putin in a meeting with Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi and supreme leader Ali Khamenei
    on 19 July 2022

    Putin met Iran President Ebrahim Raisi in January 2022 to lay the groundwork for a 20-year deal between the two nations.[245]

    2021–2022 Russo-Ukrainian crisis

    Putin holds a video call with U.S. president Joe Biden
    on 7 December 2021.

    In July 2021, Putin published an essay titled On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians, in which he states that Belarusians, Ukrainians and Russians should be in one All-Russian nation as a part of the Russian world and are "one people" whom "forces that have always sought to undermine our unity" wanted to "divide and rule".[246] The essay denies the existence of Ukraine as an independent nation.[247][248]

    On 30 November 2021, Putin stated that an

    separatist republics in Donbas as independent states and made an address concerning the events in Ukraine.[256]

    Full-scale invasion of Ukraine (2022–present)

    On 24 February, Putin in a

    nuclear deterrence units on high alert.[275] By early March, U.S. intelligence agencies determined that Putin was "frustrated" by slow progress due to an unexpectedly strong Ukrainian defense.[276]

    On 4 March, Putin signed into law a bill introducing prison sentences of up to 15 years for those who publish "knowingly false information" about the Russian military and its operations, leading to some media outlets in Russia to stop reporting on Ukraine.[277] On 7 March, as a condition for ending the invasion, the Kremlin demanded Ukraine's neutrality, recognition of Crimea as Russian territory, and recognition of the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states.[278][279] On 16 March, Putin issued a warning to Russian "traitors" who he said the West wanted to use as a "fifth column" to destroy Russia.[280][281]

    As early as 25 March, the UN

    Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights reported that Putin ordered a "kidnapping" policy, whereby Ukrainian nationals who did not cooperate with the Russian takeover of their homeland were victimized by FSB agents.[282][283] On 28 March, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he was "99.9 percent sure" that Putin thought the Ukrainians would welcome the invading forces with "flowers and smiles" while he opened the door to negotiations on the offer that Ukraine would henceforth be a non-aligned state.[284]

    On 21 September, Putin announced a

    On 30 September, Putin signed decrees which

    annexed Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson Oblasts of Ukraine into the Russian Federation. The annexations are not recognized by the international community, and are illegal under international law.[286] On 11 November the same year, Ukraine liberated Kherson.[287]

    In December 2022, he said that a war against Ukraine could be a "long process".[288] Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the Russo-Ukrainian War since February 2022.[289][290] In January 2023, Putin cited recognition of Russia's sovereignty over the annexed territories as a condition for peace talks with Ukraine.[291]

    On 20–22 March 2023, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Russia and met with Vladimir Putin both in official and unofficial capacity.[292] It was the first international meeting of Vladimir Putin since the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest.[293]

    Putin welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping
    to Moscow, 21 March 2023

    ICC arrest warrant

    On 17 March 2023, the

    illegal deportation and transfer of children from Ukraine to Russia during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.[298][299][300]

    It was the first time that the ICC had issued an arrest warrant for the head of state of one of the five Permanent Members of the United Nations Security Council,[294] (the world's five principal nuclear powers).[301]

    The ICC simultaneously issued an arrest warrant for Maria Lvova-Belova, Commissioner for Children's Rights in the Office of the President of the Russian Federation. Both are charged with...

    "...the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation,..."[296]

    ...for their publicized program, since February 24, 2022, of forced deportations of thousands of unaccompanied Ukrainian children to Russia, from areas of eastern Ukraine under Russian control.[294][296] Russia has maintained that the deportations were humanitarian efforts to protect orphans and other children abandoned in the conflict region.[294]

    Domestic policies

    Putin's domestic policies, particularly early in his first presidency, were aimed at creating a vertical power structure. On 13 May 2000, he issued a decree organizing the 89 federal subjects of Russia into seven administrative federal districts and appointed a presidential envoy responsible for each of those districts (whose official title is Plenipotentiary Representative).[302]

    North Caucasus Federal District (shown here in purple) was split from the Southern Federal District. In March 2014, the new 9th Crimean Federal District was formed after the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation
    . In July 2016, it was incorporated into the Southern Federal District.

    According to Stephen White, under the presidency of Putin, Russia made it clear that it had no intention of establishing a "second edition" of the American or British political system, but rather a system that was closer to Russia's own traditions and circumstances.[303] Some commentators have described Putin's administration as a "sovereign democracy".[304][305][306] According to the proponents of that description (primarily Vladislav Surkov), the government's actions and policies ought above all to enjoy popular support within Russia itself and not be directed or influenced from outside the country.[307]

    The practice of the system is characterized by Swedish economist Anders Åslund as manual management, commenting: "After Putin resumed the presidency in 2012, his rule is best described as 'manual management' as the Russians like to put it. Putin does whatever he wants, with little consideration to the consequences with one important caveat. During the Russian financial crash of August 1998, Putin learned that financial crises are politically destabilizing and must be avoided at all costs. Therefore, he cares about financial stability."[308]

    The period after 2012 saw mass protests against the falsification of elections, censorship and toughening of free assembly laws. In July 2000, according to a law proposed by Putin and approved by the

    heads (usually called "governors") by popular vote was replaced with a system whereby they would be nominated by the president and approved or disapproved by regional legislatures.[309][310]

    This was seen by Putin as a necessary move to stop separatist tendencies and get rid of those governors who were connected with organised crime.[311] This and other government actions effected under Putin's presidency have been criticized by many independent Russian media outlets and Western commentators as anti-democratic.[312][313] In 2012, as proposed by Putin's successor, Dmitry Medvedev, the direct election of governors was re-introduced.[citation needed]

    During his first term in office, Putin opposed some of the Yeltsin-era

    Russian military reform.[316]

    Economic, industrial, and energy policies

    Russian GDP since the end of the Soviet Union
    (beyond 2014 are forecasts)

    Sergey Guriyev, when talking about Putin's economic policy, divided it into four distinct periods: the "reform" years of his first term (1999–2003); the "statist" years of his second term (2004 – the first half of 2008); the world economic crisis and recovery (the second half of 2008–2013); and the Russo-Ukrainian War, Russia's growing isolation from the global economy, and stagnation (2014–present).[317]

    In 2000, Putin launched the "Programme for the Socio-Economic Development of the Russian Federation for the Period 2000–2010", but it was abandoned in 2008 when it was 30% complete.[318] Fueled by the 2000s commodities boom including record-high oil prices,[11][12] under the Putin administration from 2000 to 2016, an increase in income in USD terms was 4.5 times.[319] During Putin's first eight years in office, industry grew substantially, as did production, construction, real incomes, credit, and the middle class.[320][321] A fund for oil revenue allowed Russia to repay all of the Soviet Union's debts by 2005.[citation needed] Russia joined the World Trade Organization on 22 August 2012.[322]

    In 2006, Putin launched an industry consolidation programme to bring the main aircraft-producing companies under a single umbrella organization, the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC).[323][324] In September 2020, the UAC general director announced that the UAC will receive the largest-ever post-Soviet government support package for the aircraft industry in order to pay and renegotiate the debt.[325][326]

    Putin, Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The Russian economy is heavily dependent on the export of natural resources such as oil and natural gas.[327]

    In 2014, Putin signed a deal to supply China with 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year.

    international sanctions against Russia. These events in turn led to loss of investor confidence and capital flight, though it has also been argued that the sanctions had little to no effect on Russia's economy.[329][330][331] In 2014, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project named Putin their Person of the Year for furthering corruption and organized crime.[332][333]

    According to Meduza, Putin has since 2007 predicted on a number of occasions that Russia will become one of the world's five largest economies. In 2013, he said Russia was one of the five biggest economies in terms of gross domestic product but still lagged behind other countries on indicators such as labour productivity.[334]

    Environmental policy

    In 2004, Putin signed the Kyoto Protocol treaty designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.[335] However, Russia did not face mandatory cuts, because the Kyoto Protocol limits emissions to a percentage increase or decrease from 1990 levels and Russia's greenhouse-gas emissions fell well below the 1990 baseline due to a drop in economic output after the breakup of the Soviet Union.[336]

    Religious policy

    Putin regularly attends the most important services of the

    Under Putin, the

    Ronald S. Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, also praised Putin for making Russia "a country where Jews are welcome".[341]

    Human rights organizations and religious freedom advocates have criticized the state of religious freedom in Russia.[342] In 2016, Putin oversaw the passage of legislation that prohibited missionary activity in Russia.[342] Nonviolent religious minority groups have been repressed under anti-extremism laws, especially Jehovah's Witnesses.[343]

    One of the 2020 amendments to the Constitution of Russia has a constitutional reference to God.[344]

    Military development

    Sergei Shoygu (left) and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov at the Vostok 2018 military exercise

    The resumption of long-distance flights of Russia's

    Anatoliy Serdyukov during his meeting with Putin on 5 December 2007, that 11 ships, including the aircraft carrier Kuznetsov, would take part in the first major navy sortie into the Mediterranean since Soviet times.[345][346]

    While from the early 2000s Russia started placing more money into its military and defense industry, it was only in 2008 that full-scale

    Russian military reform began, aiming to modernize the Russian Armed Forces and make them significantly more effective. The reform was largely carried out by Defense Minister Serdyukov during Medvedev's presidency, under the supervision of both Putin, as the head of government, and Medvedev, as the commander-in-chief of the Russian Armed Forces.[citation needed

    Key elements of the reform included reducing the armed forces to a strength of one million, reducing the number of officers, centralising officer training from 65 military schools into 10 'systemic' military training centres, creating a professional NCO corps, reducing the size of the central command, introducing more civilian logistics and auxiliary staff, elimination of cadre-strength formations, reorganising the reserves, reorganising the army into a brigade system, and reorganising air forces into an airbase system instead of regiments.[citation needed]

    Russian postage stamp honoring a soldier killed in the Russo-Ukrainian War. As of February 2023, the number of Russian soldiers killed and wounded in Ukraine was estimated at nearly 200,000.[347]

    According to the Kremlin, Putin embarked on a build-up of Russia's nuclear capabilities because of U.S. President George W. Bush's unilateral decision to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.[348] To counter what Putin sees as the United States' goal of undermining Russia's strategic nuclear deterrent, Moscow has embarked on a program to develop new weapons capable of defeating any new American ballistic missile defense or interception system. Some analysts believe that this nuclear strategy under Putin has brought Russia into violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.[349]

    Accordingly, U.S. President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would no longer consider itself bound by the treaty's provisions, raising nuclear tensions between the two powers.[349] This prompted Putin to state that Russia would not launch first in a nuclear conflict but that "an aggressor should know that vengeance is inevitable, that he will be annihilated, and we would be the victims of the aggression. We will go to heaven as martyrs".[350]

    Putin has also sought to increase Russian territorial claims in the Arctic and its military presence there. In August 2007, Russian expedition Arktika 2007, part of research related to the 2001 Russian territorial extension claim, planted a flag on the seabed at the North Pole.[351] Both Russian submarines and troops deployed in the Arctic have been increasing.[352][353]

    Human rights policy

    Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny attends a march in memory of assassinated opposition politician Boris Nemtsov
    in Moscow, 29 February 2020.

    New York City-based NGO Human Rights Watch, in a report entitled Laws of Attrition, authored by Hugh Williamson, the British director of HRW's Europe & Central Asia Division, has claimed that since May 2012, when Putin was reelected as president, Russia has enacted many restrictive laws, started inspections of non-governmental organizations, harassed, intimidated and imprisoned political activists, and started to restrict critics. The new laws include the "foreign agents" law, which is widely regarded as over-broad by including Russian human rights organizations which receive some international grant funding, the treason law, and the assembly law which penalizes many expressions of dissent.[354][355] Human rights activists have criticized Russia for censoring speech of LGBT activists due to "the gay propaganda law"[356] and increasing violence against LGBT+ people due to the law.[357][358][359]

    In 2020, Putin signed a law on labelling individuals and organizations receiving funding from abroad as "foreign agents". The law is an expansion of "foreign agent" legislation adopted in 2012.[360][361]

    As of June 2020, per Memorial Human Rights Center, there were 380 political prisoners in Russia, including 63 individuals prosecuted, directly or indirectly, for political activities (including Alexey Navalny) and 245 prosecuted for their involvement with one of the Muslim organizations that are banned in Russia. 78 individuals on the list, i.e. more than 20% of the total, are residents of Crimea.[362][363] As of December 2022, more than 4,000 people were prosecuted for criticizing the war in Ukraine under Russia's war censorship laws.[364]

    The media

    Putin and Konstantin Ernst, chief of Russia's main state-controlled TV station Channel One. About two-thirds of Russians use television as their primary source of daily news.[365]

    Scott Gehlbach, a professor of Political Science at the

    CIA as a Soviet analyst in the 1980s says, "Having muzzled Russia's print and broadcast media, Putin focused his energies on the Internet."[369]

    Robert W. Orttung and Christopher Walker reported that "Reporters Without Borders, for instance, ranked Russia 148 in its 2013 list of 179 countries in terms of freedom of the press. It particularly criticized Russia for the crackdown on the political opposition and the failure of the authorities to vigorously pursue and bring to justice criminals who have murdered journalists. Freedom House ranks Russian media as "not free", indicating that basic safeguards and guarantees for journalists and media enterprises are absent."[370]

    In the early 2000s, Putin and his circle began promoting the idea in Russian media that they are the modern-day version of the 17th-century Romanov tsars who ended Russia's "Time of Troubles", meaning they claim to be the peacemakers and stabilizers after the fall of the Soviet Union.[371]

    Promoting conservatism

    Putin attends the Orthodox Christmas service in the village Turginovo in Kalininsky District
    , Tver Oblast, 7 January 2016.

    Putin has promoted explicitly conservative policies in social, cultural, and political matters, both at home and abroad. Putin has attacked

    Russian conservatism.[372] Putin has promoted new think tanks that bring together like-minded intellectuals and writers. For example, the Izborsky Club, founded in 2012 by the conservative right-wing journalist Alexander Prokhanov, stresses (i) Russian nationalism, (ii) the restoration of Russia's historical greatness, and (iii) systematic opposition to liberal ideas and policies.[373] Vladislav Surkov, a senior government official, has been one of the key economics consultants during Putin's presidency.[374]

    In cultural and social affairs Putin has collaborated closely with the Russian Orthodox Church. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, head of the Church, endorsed his election in 2012 stating Putin's terms were like "a miracle of God."[375] Steven Myers reports, "The church, once heavily repressed, had emerged from the Soviet collapse as one of the most respected institutions... Now Kiril led the faithful directly into an alliance with the state."[376]

    Mark Woods, a Baptist Union of Great Britain minister and contributing editor to Christian Today, provides specific examples of how the Church has backed the expansion of Russian power into Crimea and eastern Ukraine.[377] Some Russian Orthodox believers consider Putin a corrupt and brutal strongman or even a tyrant. Others do not admire him, but appreciate that he aggravates their political opponents. Still others appreciate that Putin defends some although not all Orthodox teachings, whether or not he believes in them himself.[378]

    On abortion, Putin stated: "In the modern world, the decision is up to the woman herself."[379] This put him at odds with the Russian Orthodox Church.[380][381] In 2020, he supported efforts to reduce the number of abortions instead of prohibiting it.[382]

    Putin supported the 2020 Russian constitutional referendum, which passed and defined marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman in the Constitution of Russia.[383][384][385]

    International sporting events

    2018 FIFA World Cup Final
    in Russia

    In 2007, Putin led a successful effort on behalf of Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2014 Winter Paralympics,[386] the first Winter Olympic Games to ever be hosted by Russia. In 2008, the city of Kazan won the bid for the 2013 Summer Universiade; on 2 December 2010, Russia won the right to host the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and 2018 FIFA World Cup, also for the first time in Russian history. In 2013, Putin stated that gay athletes would not face any discrimination at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.[387]

    Foreign policy

    In her 2022 book, Anna Borshchevskaya summarizes Putin main foreign policy objectives as originating in his 30 December 1999 document which appeared on the government's website, "Russia at the Turn of the Millenium".[388] She presents Putin as orienting himself to the plan that "Russia is a country with unique values in danger of losing its unity—which... is a historic Russian fear. This again points to the fundamental issue of Russia's identity issues—and how the state had manipulated these to drive anti-Western security narratives with the aim of eroding the US-led global order... Moreover, a look at Russia's distribution of forces over the years under Putin has been heavily weighted towards the south (Syria, Ukraine, Middle East), another indicator of the Kremlin's threat perceptions."[389][390]

    Leonid Bershidsky analyzed Putin's interview with the Financial Times and concluded, "Putin is an imperialist of the old Soviet school, rather than a nationalist or a racist, and he has cooperated with, and promoted, people who are known to be gay."[391] Putin spoke favorably of artificial intelligence in regards to foreign policy, "Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind. It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world."[392]


    in New Delhi