New three-part documentary Putin Vs The West follows the conflict between western world leaders and Vladimir Putin, former KGB agent and President of Russia since 2012. The series is the work of American documentary maker and producer Norma Percy.
Percy has made several documentaries about major crises of the 20th and 21st century, including The Death of Yugoslavia, Watergate, and Israel and the Arabs: Elusive Peace. More than a decade ago, Percy produced the four-part docuseries Putin, Russia and the West, which aired between Putin’s first and second stint as the President of Russia.
Putin first became President in 2000, leading the country until 2008 - at the time the Russian constitution stipulated that Presidents could only serve for a maximum of two four-year terms. Since then several amendments have been made to the constitution. Putin returned as President in 2012, and is expected to seek re-election in 2024.
In the years that Putin has been the Russian leader, and especially since 2014, tensions with western nations have increased to levels not seen since the Cold War. Putin Vs the West explores how Putin has affected the balance of power on the world stage, and brought instability to millions.
What isPutin vs the West about?
The series begins with the events leading up to the annexation of Crimea in 2014, and the attempts of the western powers to formulate a strong response, including expelling Russia from the G8.
The second episode focuses on Russia’s involvement in the Middle East, in the wake of the removal of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. Putin is determined to support his key ally, Syria President Bashar al-Assad, who has been fighting a civil war against US-backed rebel groups since 2011.
The final episode of the series explores the lead-up to the 2022 invasion of Ukraine from the perspective of world leaders who tried to prevent it. Boris Johnson, who was the British Prime Minister at the time of the invasion, recalls how Putin threatened him with a missile strike in the days before Russian forces invaded Ukraine.
Which world leaders feature Putin Vs the West?
Several high ranking civil servants, politicians and world leaders who have dealt with Putin over the last decade speak about their experiences with the Russian President in the documentary.
Former European leaders who feature in the documentary include UK Prime Ministers David Cameron,Theresa May, and Boris Johnson, as well as Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of Lithuania (2009-2019), François Hollande, President of France (2012-2017), Oleksandr Turchynov, Acting President of Ukraine (2014), and Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine (2014-2019).
Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission from 2014 to 2019 also speaks in the documentary, as do several figures from the American leadership including Obama advisors Caroline Atkinson and Michael McFaul.
Another major figure from the conflict who is involved in the documentary is Ukraine’s current president and wartime leader Volodymyr Zelensky. Speaking from the Russian perspective is Andrey Kelin, Russia’s ambassador to the United Kingdom since 2019.
When is Putin Vs the West on TV?
The first episode of Putiv Vs the West will air on BBC Two on Monday 30 January at 9pm. There are three episodes in the series and they will air at the same time weekly. All three episodes are also available to watch on BBC iPlayer now. Each episode is one hour long.