Vladimir Putin Named World’s Most Powerful Person

Vladimir Putin

Forbes is out with the new list of the world’s most powerful people, and President Obama isn’t at the top of the list:

Vladimir Putin has usurped President Obama as the Forbes’ Most Powerful Person in the World this year for the first time in Obama’s presidency.

The magazine published its annual list today and noted that the Russian president had overtaken the American one in part because of Russia’s role in the Syria conflict this summer.

“Putin has solidified his control over Russia and anyone watching the chess match over Syria has a clear idea of the shift in the power towards Putin on the global stage,” Forbes wrote. “The ex-KGB strongman-who controls a nuclear-tipped army, a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council and some of the world’s largest oil and gas reserves – is allowed to serve another six-year term, which could keep him in office until 2024.”

Putin has flaunted his power over the past year, including during heightened tensions with the U.S. over Syria when he penned an Op-Ed critical of Obama and published it in The New York Times.

As Russia and the U.S. came to agreement over disarming Syria, Putin was also touting the fact that he provided refuge for Edward Snowden, the intelligence leaker sought by the U.S. for publishing National Security Agency’s secrets.

Rounding out the Top 5 are President Obama at No. 2, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Xi Jinping at No. 3, Pope Frances at No. 4, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at No. 5. You can find the rest of the list at the link.

FILED UNDER: General, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.


  1. michael reynolds says:

    Edward Snowden just sent me the secret transcript of the editorial meeting at Forbes:

    Editor: It’s obviously Obama.

    Publisher: And just how many magazines will that sell?

    Editor: Good point. You want to go with the Chinese?

    Publisher: Nah. Putin. We have more pictures and he’s much more colorful.

  2. john personna says:

    Of course an autocrat wins.

    Why on earth would they think Obama’s number two though?

  3. john personna says:

    @michael reynolds:

    In a democracy, we don’t actually want our elected representative to be the most powerful person on earth.

    I think it’s even in the Constitution.

  4. mattbernius says:

    @john personna:

    In a democracy, we don’t actually want our elected representative to be the most powerful person on earth.


    BTW, the recent partial shutdown exemplifies why Obama could not rightfully be called the “most powerful person.” Can you imagine a scenario in which Putin would be overruled on a critical issue by the Russian Parliament?

    To @JP’s point, if we are talking about power to act unilaterally on any major issue, and generally speaking get away with it, Mr Obama (and any other president) shouldn’t be in the top 3.

  5. Tyrell says:

    This has to be a joke. This sounds more like “Cracked” . Most powerful? Of what?

  6. gVOR08 says:

    What @michael reynolds: said. And clearly in the minds of Forbes Obama getting what he wanted in Syria while maintaining a low profile is less impressive than posturing.

  7. michael reynolds says:

    Russia is a decrepit autocracy with a shrinking population. They have oil and gas, that’s it. Imagining that the Syria thing is a shift in power is laughable. Putin’s doing our work for us. He’s also helping to save his boy, and I’m sure that pisses of the Saudis, but that doesn’t make him anything but convenient.