Foreign Policy / Russia

Is Putin really the most powerful person in the world?


My newsfeed headlines have been dominated by news that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been named second most influential man in the world. Although there are many other newsworthy stories to report, I believe that this story deserves a nod.

According to Ian Bremmer, President of the Eurasia Group, influential, charismatic leaders still run the world. Shocking!

Nobody was named first. Literally, Bremmer reserves this spot for “nobody” stating: “In a G-Zero world, everyone is waiting for someone else to shoulder responsibility for the world’s toughest and most dangerous challenges.”

Yes, in this G-Zero world, namely, a global power vacuum, Vladimir Putin would be second. The rest of the list includes Ben Bernanke, Angela Merkel of Germany, Barack Obama, Mario Draghi, Xi Jinping, King Abdullah Bin Abd al-Aziz of Saudi Arabia and a tie between Ayatollah Khameni and Christine Lagarde.

Bremmer’s criterion for ranking is “an individual’s ability to (singlehandedly) bring about change that significantly affects the lives and fortunes of large numbers of people.”

In that case, Vladimir Putin is an appropriate choice. Although he lost some political clout as of late, with controversial legislative acts and unilateral decision making, he has never been faulted for not being able to significantly affect the lives of many people. Positively and negatively. President Putin has consolidated his power enough to be able to focus his cabinet and the people of Russia on global matters, if he so chooses. What he has done for Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union is remarkable. Even though I am quite critical when it comes to certain policies, I also understand that a strong hand is necessary to bring stability to Russia and to the region.

So, Bremmer is right. Putin isn’t number one. But he is powerful.