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.
Speaking to a crowd of children near Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin has praised pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. The president also compared the current offensive by the Ukrainian military with Nazi Germany’s siege of Leningrad during World War 2.
The leaders of Ukraine and Russia met for their first direct talks over the crisis in the country's east, with slim hopes that the discussions could be the first step toward a ceasefire. Both sides pledged to defuse tensions following months of fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces.