Vladimir Putin was mediocre in his first professional role as a spy in the KGB, a former Russian agent has claimed.
Putin has been in power as president of Russia since 2000, but before entering politics, he trained as a secret agent with the KGB, his country’s equivalent of the UK’s MI5.
The Russian swapped his role with the secret service for politics in 1991, and has become notorious after invading neighbours Ukraine in February and threatening the West with nuclear annihilation.
READ MORE:Ex-KGB agent says ‘end of Vladimir Putin’s career is near and his health is not good’
While much is unknown about Putin’s past life as a spy, one of his former colleagues, Jack Barsky has revealed that he was not one of the country’s most promising recruits.
“He had a different type of training than I did; mine was one on one and he went to school, so to speak,” Jack told the podcast.
“Fundamentally, he was not a top agent. There’s only one thing you need to know; he knows German pretty well, [but] where was he deployed? In East Germany, not in West Germany, not in Austria, not in Switzerland, that’s where they sent the best, right?”
Before the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, Germany had been split in half, with East Germany falling under the control of the communist bloc.
So, as an extension of the USSR, this meant that Putin had only been trusted to operate as a spy on home soil.
And, Barsky went on to explain that one of Putin’s former bosses, Oleg Kalugin, had told him that the Russian despot had not been an “impressive” agent.
But, despite his supposed failings as a spy, Jack admitted that Putin had quickly gone on to become a hugely effective political leader.
“He was known as a really really good organiser. When [Boris] Yeltsin hired him as Prime Minister he cleaned up the mess, because under Yeltsin Russia deteriorated tremendously and became sort of a mix of Oligarchy and a criminal enterprise and chaotic,” he recalled.
Despite the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine not making the progress expected, the Russian leader has shown no inclination to call a halt on the attack.
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Barsky speculated on what might be driving Putin to mount this invasion, suggesting it had its roots in the fall of the Berlin Wall that he had witnessed while he was a KGB agent.
“He was at one point a member of the greatest and most powerful intelligence organisations in the world and all of a sudden he was powerless, and he had to watch how this was a defeat, a big one,” he claimed.
“He probably promised himself, ‘never again’, Russia needs to be great again.”
This comes as Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party has suggested referring to Putin as ‘our ruler’ instead of the westernised term of President, as tensions build between Russian and NATO over the conflict in Ukraine.
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