President Vladimir Putin has been Russia’s dominant political figure for more than a decade, but during this term, the West has learned little about his background and the formative experiences that shape his worldview. In their new book, Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin (Brookings, 2013), Brookings Senior Fellows Fiona Hill and Clifford G. Gaddy reveal the complex identities of Mr. Putin and argue that an awareness of his real personas is essential to understanding the influence he has had on Russia and what the future holds for the country.
On February 6, the Center on the United States and Europe at Brookings hosted the launch of Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin featuring a panel discussion to explore how Vladimir Putin has singularly defined Russian leadership and its role in the world in the new century. The discussion featured Hill and Gaddy, who will examine how Putin has turned himself into the ultimate political performance artist and how his identities have shaped the way the political and economic system operates today in Russia.
Brookings President Strobe Talbott, who served in the U.S. State Department from 1993 to 2001 as ambassador-at-large for the former Soviet Union and then as deputy secretary, also joined the panel. Brookings Guest Scholar Marvin Kalb, former chief diplomatic correspondent for CBS News and NBC News who first reported from Russia in the 1950s, provided introductory remarks and moderated the discussion. During the discussion, Kalb and Talbott used experiences from their distinguished careers covering Russia to offer perspectives on the sweep of Russia’s modern history that encompasses Putin’s lifetime from the end of the Stalin-era until today.