As Russia withdrew its troops from Kherson November 11, the man who ordered the war — and annexed that very region weeks earlier — went silent. Vladimir Putin has cast himself as a man of power who’s cool under fire, but he left it to his military to declare the retreat.
Can he get away with it? And how did he get to where he is?
Andrew Weiss, one of the most astute Russia analysts in the U.S., demystifies the long-serving autocrat in a new book, Accidental Czar: the Life and Lies of Vladimir Putin. This is a graphic novel in form, an authoritative biography in content. It was published this month.
This is the story of a middle-ranking intelligence operative with a thin resume who rises to power through corrupt wheeling-dealing in St. Petersburg. He worms his way into the inner circle of failed reformer Boris Yeltsin. The images are memorable: There’s Putin, the street thug, cornering a rat in a St. Petersburg apartment only to have the rat attack him; Putin at the door of the KGB begging in vain for a job; Putin claiming he single handedly held off a mob in East Germany in 1989 when all he did was call the Russian army for help.
Andrew Weiss has worked as a specialist on Russia in both Republican and Democratic administrations, serving at the White House National Security Council, the State Department and the Pentagon. He’s now vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.
He will speak on the theme ‘Demystifying Putin” on Tuesday, Nov. 29. This will be an in-person presentation at the World Trade Center on the Inner Harbor.