Ukraine: Vladimir Putin launches missile in warning
The Russian President has continued to keep the world guessing on his next move in Ukraine. While he has withdrawn troops from the north of the country, military personnel have since moved to the east, where Russia already has a foothold over the Donbas region. Some experts suggest he is hoping to take a chunk of eastern Ukraine, and perhaps let the rest of the country go — for now.
In a televised meeting, Putin congratulated Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu for seizing control of the Ukrainian port city, even though fighters continue to hold out against the brutal onslaught that has destroyed most of the area.
Even a decade into his second spell as Russian President, few are able to work out exactly what the former KGB officer is thinking.
Such is the mystery of the Russian despot that his ex-wife could not even work him out when he proposed to her.
Putin met air stewardess Lyudmila Shkrebneva some time in the late Seventies or early Eighties, and the pair married in July 1983.
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Putin proposed to Lyudmila in the least romantic way possible.
Putin and Lyudmila divorced in 2013.
In Putin’s 2000 multi-authored autobiography, ‘First Person: An Astonishingly Frank Self-Portrait by Russia’s President’, she writes that his idea of a proposal was worlds away from getting down on one knee.
It is not an autobiography in the traditional sense of the word, and is instead a compilation of more than 24 hours of in-depth interviews with his nearest and dearest, covering everything from his difficult upbringing in Leningrad, his KGB past, and his thoughts on the major issues facing the world at the turn of the millennium.
After dating for nearly three and a half years, Lyudmila recalled: “One night we were sitting at his house, and he said, ‘You know what kind of person I am by now. In general I’m not very easygoing.’
“He was being self-critical. He explained that he was the silent type; that he was rather abrupt in some things and could even insult people, and so on.
Lyudmila made the revelations in her ex-husband’s autobiography.
“He was saying that he was a risky life partner. And he added: ‘In three and a half years, you have probably made up your mind.’”
She continued: “It sounded like we were breaking up. ‘Yes, I’ve made up my mind,’ I said.
“He let out a doubtful ‘Yes?’ Then I was sure that that was it, we were breaking up.
“But then he said, ‘Well, then, if that’s the way it is, I love you and propose that we get married.’”
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Putin and Lyudmila were married for 30 years before they went their separate ways.
The book offers yet more details and insight about the man who has largely kept his private life sealed behind closed doors for the past two decades.
Just as his troops cornered Volodymyr Zelensky’s forces in Mariupol, Putin revealed he first learned “the meaning of the word cornered” while growing up in Leningrad.
The city faced major poverty and was still recovering from the devastating Nazi seige laid on it in World War 2.
His family lived in an apartment in the city, described by his school teacher as “horrid… without any conveniences”.
A class photo with Vladimir Putin, (first row, third from right) dated 1964-65 in Russia
Putin said: “There, on that stair landing, I got a quick and lasting lesson in the meaning of the word cornered.
“There were hordes of rats in the front entryway. My friends and I used to chase them around with sticks.
“Once I spotted a huge rat and pursued it down the hall until I drove it into a corner. It had nowhere to run.
“Suddenly it lashed around and threw itself at me. I was surprised and frightened.
“Now the rat was chasing me. It jumped across the landing and down the stairs. Luckily, I was a little faster and managed to slam the door shut in its nose.”
Putin, 69, joined the KGB in 1975, and served in Dresden, East Germany, for five years from 1985.
He claims he resigned from the KGB on the second day of the 1991 coup d’etat attempt against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.
After venturing into politics, he became Prime Minister in August 1999, before becoming President on December 31 1999.
He served until 2008, and was barred from serving a third consecutive term by the Russian Constitution. After a four year hiatus, he returned as Russian President in 2012, and has held the position since.