Vladimir Putin illustration by Ingram Pinn

Vladimir Putin commenced his second term as president of Russia in May 2012, having already served in the role between 2000 and 2008.

A former KGB agent in East Germany from 1985 to 1990, he began his political career in Moscow in 1996, eventually including two stints as prime minister - 1999 to 2000 and 2008 to 2012.

Merkel plays the long game with Putin

The German chancellor has decelerated the pace of sanctions but she will act, writes Beth Pond

Nato rediscovers its founding mission

Alliance must find will and resources to defend Europe

Merkel’s sanctions rethink reflects loss of trust in Putin

Chancellor’s allies say MH17 more critical than US pressure

Putin fights to keep factions on side

President in balancing act to appease tycoons and nationalists

Closing a 25-year chapter with Russia

Putin’s misconduct made new sanctions inevitable

A damning verdict in the Yukos case

The decision raises questions about BP’s judgment

Ex-Yukos shareholders awarded $50bn

Ruling is biggest compensation award made in an arbitration case

Images show Russian attacks, says US

Artillery firing on Ukrainian forces, Washington claims

Germany set to back EU Russian sanctions

Burden must be spread across bloc, says Steinmeier

Vladimir Putin: Collision course

The Ukraine crisis has boosted the president’s popularity but fears for the economy are growing

German industry softens sanctions stance

Cordes urges Putin to ‘get some influence’ with rebels

Slavyansk grave reveals Ukraine’s wounds

Many welcome the return of Ukrainian rule, others mistrust Kiev

Sanctions and a disunited European Union

A coherent EU response to Russia requires clear thinking

Europe needs a lesson in deterrence

Europeans have been slow to recognise the world as it is rather than as they imagined

Obama pressed to act against Russia

US president accused of weakness in Ukraine crisis

Putin starts to show the strain

Pressure brings sign of fissure in Russia’s elite

Putin looks at breaking Gazprom monopoly

Boost for Rosneft after intensive lobbying

Bodies prepared for flight to Netherlands

Dutch PM calls for change in relationship with Russia

Putin vows to lean on separatist rebels

Concession to western pressure balanced by defiance

Putin ally warns on Russia isolationism

Kudrin says stand-off with west over Ukraine will hurt economy

Rebel trio may have slipped Moscow’s bonds

Unclear how much control Kremlin has over separatists

James Ferguson illustration Vladimir Putin
©James Ferguson

Russia is being led to disaster

Putin is revealed as a reckless gambler leading his country into economic and political isolation

Obama warns Russia of isolation

President says Moscow must compel separatists to co-operate

Putin handed ultimatum over crash site

Russia faces further sanctions as western anger grows

West should repair Ukraine’s economy

Those who want Russia punished with tougher sanctions are misguided, writes Thomas Graham

The aftermath of MH17 crash

International pressure grows on Ukraine rebels

Russia adopts delaying tactics over rebels

Moscow under pressure to disown Ukraine militias over MH17 crash

Putin’s next move – invade?

Europe has half-colluded in the ludicrous pretence that Russia is a concerned bystander in Ukraine

Australia threatens Putin with G20 summit ban

Summit ban unless Russia facilitates crash investigation

Crisis ‘a wake-up call to Europe’ on sanctions

MH17 disaster leaves Putin on the back foot

Putin is facing his moment of truth

Tragedy of MH17 shows he is losing control in Ukraine

Putin’s credibility lies with MH17

In the past a war was initiated by artillery, today it is by disinformation, writes Carl Bildt

Crash raises political heat over Ukraine

Blame game could harden positions in Kiev and Washington

Rosneft’s plans for world domination in doubt

Access to long-term finance limited by Russia sanctions

Gloom dominates in city of ‘happiness’

Residents live next to front line between army and separatists

Nato must focus on western ‘hybrid wars’

Foes think the political will for military action has weakened – the west has other strengths

Court freezes assets of ‘Putin’s banker’

Sergei Pugachev is served Russian liquidator’s papers in London

Shanghai to host $100bn Brics bank

Emerging economies share out roles

Putin’s chief weapon is destabilising Kiev

Moscow is undermining the east to keep Ukraine within its orbit

China courtship meets fear and mistrust

Improving bilateral trade in Russia’s far east beset by rivalry