Forbes has named Vladimir Putin most powerful person in the world for the second year in a row.
The Russian president reached the top of the annual rankings in large part due to his belligerent approach in eastern Europe.
“We took some heat last year when we named [Putin] as the most powerful man in the world,” the magazine says, but this year’s push to take over Crimea and cause political and military turmoil in eastern Ukraine helped cement the leader’s position. To be sure, Putin has recently sent Russian warplanes into European airspace unannounced and he even has his very own, very creepy automaton.
“Russia looks more and more like an energy-rich, nuclear-tipped rogue state with an undisputed, unpredictable and unaccountable head unconstrained by world opinion in pursuit of its goals,” Forbes says.
Naming Putin most powerful person was an easy choice over the magazine’s number two: U.S. President Barack Obama. Where Putin is “the omnipotent head of a feisty former superpower,” Obama is “the handcuffed head of the most dominant country in the world.”
Obama was Forbes’ most powerful person before Putin’s reign, and still “has the power but has been too cautious to fully exercise it.” Unlike his counterpart in Moscow, who has no such qualms.
Finishing third was Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has presided over a consolidation of power in Beijing and seen his country become home to the biggest economy in the world. Xi’s “surprisingly assertive public profile” has added to his growing personal mythology.
Rounding out the top ten were Pope Francis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen, Bill Gates, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, and British Prime Minister David Cameron.
New to the rankings are Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (#15), elected this summer, and Jack Ma (#30), CEO of Chinese e-retailer Alibaba, which went public this year. Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos was 16th, while Apple CEO Tim Cook took 25th.
The full list includes 72 people, “one for every 100 million people on the planet.” According to Forbes:
This is not a lineup of the most influential or an anointing of the new establishment. It is an evaluation of hard power. We insist the people on our list wield the kind of power that shapes and bends the world, and moves people, markets, armies and minds.
As for Putin, “most powerful person” may be an apt label today but Voice of America reported recently that Western sanctions may be starting to eat into some of the Russian leader’s strength at home.[photo credit: World Economic Forum]