Book Review

Putin: In depth study gets to the heart of what motivates Russia’s ruthless president

Philip Short’s impressive biography of the Russian leader examines Putin from a Russian rather than western perspective and helps to explain, if not condone, his motives and actions

Vladimir Putin: the Russian president’s political journey went from initially a benign disposition towards the West to the rage, resentment and siege mentality that ultimately has led to the invasion of Ukraine. Picture: Getty

When the music of Swan Lake wafted out from Soviet state radio, it was a bad omen. At least it was if you were leader of the Soviet Union, as Mikhail Gorbachev discovered when he took a few days’ break and a coup was launched in August 1991. Although the putschists were put down, Gorbachev was gone a few months later, ushering in the chaotic rule of Boris Yeltsin.

There followed Russia’s “wild west” years ...