Twenty days after the beginning of the Ukraine invasion by Russian military forces, thousands of people have been killed and more than two million people have fled the country. After numerous attempts at negotiations between EU member states and the Kremlin, Russian president Vladimir Putin does not seem to be willing to back down in this conflict and many wonder if his psychological state is the cause of this.
Born in 1952 in the West Russian city Leningrad (St-Petersburg), Putin had a difficult childhood, growing up as a street boy who chased rats around his run-down building and was frequently bullied by children of his age. In Leningrad, a seated city for almost 900 during WW2, poverty was everywhere and millions had previously died from starvation. His father, Vladimir Spiridonovich Putin was fighting in the Russian navy. His mother, Maria Ivanovna Putina, struggled with hunger while raising her son. In First Person a book written by Andrei Kolesnikov and Nataliya Gevorkyan tracing the history of Vladimir Putin, the current Russian president said:
In 1975, Vladimir Putin joined the KGB, a national security agency which included the protection of the political leadership and the surveillance of “border troops” and the Russian population. After four years and a half spent working for the KGB, Putin was sent to train at the Andropov Institute, a higher institution specialising in the training of intelligence officers and executives, for an extensive training.
Former KGB spy Sergei Zhirnov, who trained at the same time at Andropov Institute before being assigned to infiltrate the National School of Administration (ENA) in France, told French newspaper Le Figaro his memories of training with Vladimir Putin.
Sergei Zhirnov remembers Putin as an over confident and very lonely individual “who was unaware of the danger he posed to himself and others.” “He was sent back to Leningrad (present-day St. Petersburg) before being sent to the German Democratic Republic, and was a liaison officer in a provincial town.”
The invasion of Ukraine brought to the fore the question of the President’s psychological health to explain his aggressive behaviour. Experts and neuropsychologists have put forward the fact that Vladimir Putin’s behaviour may have been influenced by his consumption of anabolic steroids, the hubris syndrome impacting his frontal lobes or the results of cognitive effects of long Covid.