While Vladimir Putin< was making his meteoric rise to power in the KGB, his handlers did not foresee the fall of the Soviet Union (1989). Putin materially supported the Red Army Faction and collected intelligence for the KGB. When the wall came down Putin resigned and moved into politics. Improvisation.
By 1999 Putin was running the country and has ever since. Like most tyrants he was able to keep this tendency hidden for a time. He has left a trail of bodies from Sergei Yushenkov (2003) to Yevgeny Prigoshin (2023). He has become president for life of the Russian Federation.
Why he thought invading Ukraine would provoke no response from the West may be attributed to the lack of interest of his invasion of Crimea in 2014. However, it is reminiscent of Saddam Hussein‘s< underestimation of the world’s response to the invasion of Kuwait in 1990. If Bush Sr had removed Hussein at the time Iranian influence, and thus Russian ties, would have sprung up sooner in Iraq. Interestingly Phil was working in Saudi Arabia at the time.
Related: “A list of Putin critics that have been attacked or killed” (NBCNewYork)