President Putin is a procrastinator, trusts his intuition more than expert advice and never touches dirty money, according to people who personally know him
Franz Sedelmayer, a German who had a business in St. Petersburg in the early 1990s and had numerous contacts with President Putin both in Russia and Germany, mentioned three things that rarely have been written about.
Putin is a procrastinator. True to his habit of painstaking preparation, he long keeps the most important things on the back burner. He seemingly waits for the moment of lucidity that comes from the sheer amount of accumulated information. Only then he makes decisions, often based on an emotional response that makes it look like a snap judgment.
Trusts his intuition
Putin trusts his own experience and gut feeling much more than all his experts and tomes of research. When he needs to handle complicated matters, he seems to see the role of experts in throwing challenges at his preconception, which he often avoids to share with others. In the end, he rarely accepts what others bring to the table. This is why he hates long, complicated briefings and policy papers. Also, this is why he likes to surround himself with people who can provide several different approaches to the same issue, or even better compete with each other.
Doesn’t touch dirty money
Putin, during his work in St. Petersburg for the liberal mayor of Sobchak, was known to never take bribes. What he did was cover bribe-takers who handled the contributory part of the deals he supervised.
In the picture below (photo of TASS), Vladimir Putin is watching Sobchak’s back in St. Petersburg in the early 1990s. Putin’s claim to fame among the clan of President Yeltsin as an unfailing sidekick and trusty workhorse—which ultimately secured him the top job in the Kremlin—was to protect the fortune that Sobchak was stashing away in Paris, and later exfiltrate him out of Russia when his enemies were about to get the man.
After the war, despite all the efforts, the USSR never managed to regain this level of strategic advantage over the West.
As a result of WW2, the Soviet Union lost the military supremacy we had built up on the eve of the war against Germany:
After the war, despite all the efforts, we have never since managed to regain this level of strategic advantage over the West.
As a result of WW2, the traditional American isolationism ended. The US took global leadership in preserving the new world order. The old Leninist strategy of “let them fight each other for us to pick the spoils” would no longer work. The USSR faced NATO, a global coalition of democratic countries possessing an economic and military muscle that we, in the long run, could not match. It was now the turn for our new Chinese friends to push for a nuclear US vs. USSR showdown in the hope of picking up the spoils in the after-war rubble.
History gave the USSR no new chance of running over Western Europe. Eventually, the Cold War bankrupted us.
With the capacity for Mutually Assured Destruction still present on both sides, the likelihood of an all-out nuclear strike from either side is rather small. Whatever propaganda on either side is saying, there are hardly any issues between Russia and the US/NATO that can’t be sorted out in a considerably less costly way, through negotiations or conventional proxy conflicts.
But if, against odds, Black Swans arrive and the nuclear option comes to table, we’ll most likely see a carefully scaled conflict. The first shots would be delivering tactical nuclear munitions, in order to measure public and military response from the other side.
Right now, the most likely area for such an exchange seems to be the Baltic Sea nations and the Ukraine. The rationale for that might be Putin testing NATO’s resolve to invoke Article 5 in the face of the imminent threat of nuclear escalation. “Is President Trump willing to sacrifice Pittsburgh for Pärnu?” Most likely, Trump and the Germans would stand down, NATO would collapse, and the prospect of global nuclear war would blow over.