I’ve looked into Vladimir Putin’s eyes – and he won’t back down

The Russian leader doesn’t want war, and he won’t take on Nato, but neither will he give in to Merkel and Hollande if he thinks it’s against his country’s interests

After a period working in St Petersburg following the fall of Communism (where I first met him as a young official with a reputation for getting things done) his subsequent rise was stratospheric. It depended on two attributes which I saw in him in abundance – loyalty and ruthlessness. His close links with former KGB colleagues took him in 1997 from St Petersburg to the Kremlin. There he recommended himself to President Yeltsin both through sheer administrative competence and by bringing down a troublesome prosecutor who was after Yeltsin’s family. Continue reading