MOSCOW, November 6 (RIA Novosti), Daria Chernyshova — Forbes named Russian President Vladimir Putin as the world’s most powerful person for the second year running owing to the leader’s deep understanding and popularity inside Russia, experts told RIA Novosti Wednesday.
“His secret? A combination of exceptional intelligence and a deep understanding of the mechanics of ‘hard power’,” Vlad Sobell, a professor at New York University’s Prague campus told RIA Novosti.
“Moreover, a Judo black-belt steeped in Eastern warfare philosophy, he is masterful at finessing his moves. He knows when to use hard (military) power and when to avoid it; he also knows how to play on his opponents’ weaknesses and repel any counterattacks,” Sobell explained.
President Putin is extremely popular inside Russia, with his approval ratings standing at 49 percent according to independent pollster Levada Center.
“Putin is a powerful politician because he is massively popular inside Russia,” Asia Times roving correspondent Pepe Escobar told RIA Novosti Wednesday. “He is massively popular all across the Global South — because of his key role among the BRICS and inside the G-20.”
Escobar added that Putin is seen as working towards a multipolar world, as the one who prevented a war in Syria, which saved “Obama from himself”.
“Apart from holding onto the reins of power in Russia for well over a decade, which is no mean feat in itself, he is now facing down a vicious ‘non-linear warfare’ attack by the most powerful empire history has ever known – namely, the US and its allies. And there is no question whatsoever that he is holding his own,” Sobell said.
In the meantime Obama who is ranked second on the Forbes list is losing ground and even his major possible foreign policy success will hardly happen without President Putin’s help, according to Pepe Escobar.
“He may be successful on Iran; if that happens, that will be the only foreign policy success of his years in power. And by the way, it would not have been possible without the crucial help of…Vladimir Putin,” Escobar said.
He stressed also that Putin has a long-term strategy, as if he is playing chess, while Obama pretends he is playing checkers.
“Putin elaborates his views constantly, in detail, on unscripted interviews and long, important interventions as he did recently at the Valdai Club. Obama is insular, does not talk beyond his closed circle, is surrounded by extremely mediocre advisers and has a huge ego problem; psychologically, he needs constant adulation,” Escobar stressed.
Looking for historical comparisons, Vlad Sobell invoked Otto von Bismarck, “the great statesman who possessed the vision, courage and skill to unite Germany and who was able to re-organize Europe.”
The annual ranking is based on a voting by a panel of journal’s editors, who consider parameters like the person’s scope and use of power, the number of people impacted by the person in question and financial resources.
Forbes argues that the ranking singles out people, who "wield the kind of power that shapes and bends the works, and moves people, markets, armies and minds."
In 2012, Putin was in third place on the list, while Obama took first place that year. The Russian leader was also named Person of the Year by Time magazine in 2007, and The Times International Person of the Year in 2013.