How should we understand Vladimir Putin? When he became Russian President in 2000, Russia and America were allies in the War against Terror. But since those promising beginnings Putin has become a pariah to the West, meddling in Western elections and initiating the catastrophic war in Ukraine.
In August 2022 Philip Short came to Intelligence Squared to mark the publication of his major new biography, Putin: His Life and Times, which took eight years of research and writing and almost 200 interviews in a dozen different countries. In conversation with Russian security expert Mark Galeotti, Short looked beyond the caricature of Putin that Western commentators often present and explain the experiences that have shaped him. What kind of childhood did he have? To what extent was he influenced by his time in the KGB? How complicit has he been in the political assassinations that have been a feature of his rule? And what were the forces that caused his obsession with restoring Russia’s status as a great power?
Russia has once again become a global power – and one to fear. Short helped us understand the country’s enigmatic and ruthless leader – and provide unique insight on his likely next moves.
‘Anyone wanting to learn more about Putin’s personality, ideas, power…should read this outstanding biography‘ – Ian Kershaw
‘A superb, chilling, yet human portrait of a monster‘ – Simon Sebag Montefiore