Russian president Vladimir Putin in the most powerful man in the world, according to Forbes magazine. In news that will come as a blow to Barack Obama, the US president was beaten into second place by the Russian leader, with editors describing Putin as the “undisputed, unpredictable and unaccountable head of an energy-rich, nuclear-tipped state.”
China’s Xi Jinping was placed in third place, with Pope Francis and Angela Merkel coming fourth and fifth respectively, making the top five exactly the same as in 2013.
Britain’s David Cameron finishes in tenth place, making him the second most powerful European leader after Merkel, and putting him seven places ahead of France’s embattled president François Hollande.
Forbes’s editors cap the list at 72 people so there is one person for every 100 million people in the world. They then rank individuals according to numerous factors, including the number of followers they have, their financial resources and how they use their power.
The Russian president’s ranking comes after a year in which he inflamed tensions in Ukraine, successfully annexing the Crimean peninsula and aiding an ongoing rebellion in the east of the country.
The magazine says: “No one would call Vladimir Putin a good guy. In 2014 he strong-armed his way into possession of Crimea and waged an ugly proxy war in neighboring Ukraine, during which an almost certainly Russian-supplied surface-to-air missile downed a civilian jetliner.
“But as the undisputed, unpredictable and unaccountable head of an energy-rich, nuclear-tipped state, no one would ever call him weak.”