A former intelligence officer, Vladimir Putin is the President of Russia since 2012, and previously from 1999 until 2008. He worked as a KGB foreign intelligence officer for 16 years, before resigning in 1991 to begin a political career in Saint Petersburg.
Under his first tenure as president, the country's economy grew for eight consecutive years. The growth was a result of a fivefold increase in the price of oil and gas, which constitute the majority of Russian exports, recovery from the post-communist depression and financial crises, a rise in foreign investment, and prudent economic and fiscal policies.
Born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Putin's mother was a factory worker and his father was a conscript in the Soviet Navy in the early 1930s. He began to practise sambo and judo at the age of 12 and enjoyed reading on Marx, Engels, and Lenin. He learned German during this age and speaks it as a second language.
He graduated in 1975 studying law at the Saint Petersburg State University and joined the KGB. In 1984, Putin was sent to Moscow for further training at the Yuri Andropov Red Banner Institute and served in Dresden, East Germany, using a cover identity as a translator.
According to Putin's official biography, In 1989 he saved the files of the Soviet Cultural Center and of the KGB villa in Dresden for the official authorities of would-be united Germany to prevent demonstrators, including KGB and Stasi agents, from obtaining and destroying them. 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.
Putin later resigned from the KGB in 1991, following the coup against Mikhail Gorbachev, as he did not agree with what had happened and did not want to be part of the intelligence in the new administration.
Coming to Politics
In 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. Within a year, he was investigated by the city legislative council for understating prices and permitted the export of metals valued at $93,000,000 in exchange for foreign food aid that never arrived. Despite the recommendation that Putin be fired, he remained head until 1996.
In 1994, he was appointed as First Deputy Chairman of the Government of Saint Petersburg and in May 1995, he organised the Saint Petersburg branch of the pro-government Our Home – Russia political party, and until June 1997, he was the leader of the branch.
In 1997, President Boris Yeltsin appointed Putin deputy chief of the Presidential Staff, a post which he retained until May 1998, after which Yeltsin appointed him as Director of the Federal Security Service, the primary intelligence and security organisation of the Russian Federation and the successor to the KGB.
In August 1999, Putin was appointed one of three First Deputy Prime Ministers and later on that same day, he agreed to run for the presidency as Yeltsin wished.
On December 31, 1999, Yeltsin unexpectedly resigned and, according to the Constitution of Russia, Putin became Acting President of the Russian Federation. Between 2000 and 2004, Putin set about the reconstruction of the impoverished condition of the country, winning a power struggle with the Russian oligarchs.
During the Moscow theater hostage crisis in 2002, many in the international media warned that the deaths of 130 hostages in the special forces' rescue operation would damage President Putin's popularity, but shortly after the siege, the president enjoyed record public approval ratings with 83 per cent of Russians declared themselves satisfied with his handling of the crisis.
In March 2004, Putin was elected to the presidency for a second term and in December 2007, United Russia won 64.24 per cent of the popular vote. The victory in the elections was seen by many as an indication of strong popular support of the then Russian leadership and its policies.
Barring by the Constitution to have a third consecutive term, First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was elected his successor in a power-switching operation. Putin was appointed Prime Minister of Russia, maintaining his political dominance.
In September 2011, Medvedev announced that he would recommend the party nominate Putin as its presidential candidate. Despite accusations of vote-rigging Putin won the 2012 Russian presidential elections. Anti-Putin protests took place during and directly after the presidential campaign, followed by a counter-protest of Putin supporters culminated in a gathering of an estimated 130,000 supporters at Russia's largest stadium, Luzhniki Stadium.
In 2014, Russia made several military incursions into Ukrainian territory. Many members of the international community assumed that Putin's annexation of Crimea had initiated a completely new kind of Russian foreign policy, that the annexation of Crimea meant that his foreign policy had shifted "from state-driven foreign policy" to taking an offensive stance to recreate the Soviet Union.
His fourth Presidential run began in 2018 with Putin winning more than 76 per cent of the vote and in 2020, he suggested major constitutional amendments that could extend his political power after his presidency.
In September 2021, Ukraine conducted military exercises with NATO forces, after which the Kremlin warned that NATO expanding military infrastructure in Ukraine would cross "red lines" for Putin.
In February 2022, Putin warned that Ukraine's accession to NATO could embolden Ukraine to reclaim control over Russian-annexed Crimea or areas ruled by pro-Russian separatists in Donbas. In a televised address, the President announced a "special military operation" in Ukraine, launching a full-scale invasion of the country.
As a result, many countries have introduced sanctions against Russia. In response to them, Putin put the Strategic Rocket Forces nuclear deterrence units on high alert.