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74, he may be the most brilliant leader to come along in the world. Look what he’s accomplished. He’s rallied the Russian people behind him despite socio-economic condititions in the country, and induced external ethnic Russians to participate in “repatriation” of their geographic areas to Mother Russia. He’s built a formidable petro industry capable of crippling much of Europe with the flip of a gas line switch, and has a massive pipeline system unencumbered by Keystone-like regulatory issues (a system that goes all the way to the Pacific coast. He’s built a modern military with capabilities that are impressive (we now know he can launch multiple cruise missiles from far distances with tremendous accuracy, just as one example). He’s articulate, intelligent, and a master at manipulation to the point that many see him as a hero and modern day legend. And he’s been doing this over a very long time.

Brief Chronology:

1999 Became Prime Minister

1999-2000 Became acting President upon Boris Yeltsin’s resignation (nice move into the position that automatically put him there when Yeltsin resigned!)

2000-2004 President (1st term)

2004-2008 President (2nd term)

2008-2012 Prime Minister (2nd term – only because their constitution barred a 3rd consecutive term as President – of course we all know who had the real power, as evidenced in part by Obama’s open-microphone statement to Medvedev to tell Vladimir that Obama would have more flexibility once he – Obama – was elected to a 2nd term)

2012-present President (3rd term)

If one goes back and looks at his earlier history, it LOOKS rather lackluster, but he managed to insert himself in very key positions that continuously propelled him higher and higher. Putin is not just a very lucky man, he’s a rather brilliant strategist, and doing a better job of it than any other single leader in the world. While the Chinese have made very significant gains in the past decade plus, it’s been done under multiple leaders. Putin has outlasted EVERYone of any significance.

As a post script to the story (so far), the surviving navigator/pilot of the downed bomber is quoted as follows: “I can’t wait until I get the all-clear from the medics, so that I can step back into the ranks. I’m going to ask our command to keep me on this base — I have a debt to repay, for my commander.” You can bet Vladimir is on board with that comment. He does not forget, and payback with him is well south of heaven. The surviving crew member said they received no warning whatsoever, and that given their speed vs. the Turkish F-16s, the F-16s could have easily overtaken the Russian bomber and visually warned them. He is holding to his denial of any radio transmission of warning.

Stand by….