Ukraine invasion: Who really is Putin and how did it come to this?

In the News : Is Putin seeking to recreate the Soviet Union or restore the Russian empire?

Eleven days have passed since European leaders awoke with shock, surprise and anger to the news that Russia had invaded Ukraine. Because, even though Russian president Vladimir Putin had spent months preparing for an all-out invasion of Ukraine by massing 200,000 troops on its borders, much of the world refused to believe what was there in plain sight.

Mr Putin has made it clear in recent days that he has no plans to halt an invasion that has already killed thousands of people and displaced about 1.5 million.

The Russian president has also said the new avalanche of sanctions against his country “are akin to a declaration of war” and that any attempt to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine would “be considered by us as participation of the respective country in an armed conflict”.

How far is this unpredictable Russian leader really willing to push the bloodshed in Ukraine and what is his ultimate goal for Slavic people of eastern Europe? A desire to recreate the Soviet Union or a dream of restoring a version of the 19th century Russian empire?


In today’s episode, Irish Times Assistant Editor and former foreign affairs correspondent Ruadhán Mac Cormaic tracks the former KGB and mayor of St Petersburg’s rise to power and argues that Mr Putin actually underestimated Ukraine and miscalculated how the West would respond to his aggression.

Today we ask, who is Vladimir Putin and how did it come to this?

In the News is presented by reporters Sorcha Pollak and Conor Pope.

Listen to the podcast here:

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast