Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is serving a six year term as President of Russia since he was elected in 2012. He topped the 2013 Forbes list of most powerful people in the world.
Putin previously served as President from 2000 to 2008. He was Prime Minister of Russia from 1999 to 2000 and again from 2008 to 2012. For 16 years Putin served as an officer in the secret service, KGB, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. . From 1985 to 1990, the KGB stationed Putin in Dresden, East Germany, returning to Russia then and entering politics in his native Saint Petersburg in 1991.
European leaders have dampened hopes of a breakthrough with Russia over the crisis in Ukraine. A rare face-to-face meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian leader Petro Poreshenko in Milan yielded little sign of progress in de-escalating the crisis. Some progress was made on the dispute over Russian natural gas deliveries to Ukraine but plenty of issues remain unresolved.
Serbia hosted its first military parade in 30 years to welcome Russian President Vladimir Putin to the capital Belgrade - marking 70 years since Russia's liberation of Serbia in World War II. But today, Serbian politicians find themselves between the East and West. The country hopes to join the EU - yet pro-Russian sentiment continues to be strong. Boris Babic talks to Inside Europe from Belgrade.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the German parliament that sanctions against Russia over Ukraine were necessary but need not rule out dialogue. She and other western leaders are expected to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time in months, as they gather for the 10th Asia-Europe summit in Milan.
Today all eyes are on the Italian city of Milan which is hosting the 10th Asia-Europe Meeting, also known as ASEM. Taken as a whole, the ASEM member states are home to 60-percent of the world's population - half the world's economic output is generated in Europe and Asia. 53 government leaders will be attending the summit, including Russian president Vladimir Putin.