FRONTLINE investigates Russian President Vladimir Putin’s clashes with five American presidents as he’s tried to rebuild the Russian empire.
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Drawing on in-depth conversations with insiders from five U.S. presidential administrations, former U.S. intelligence leaders, diplomats, Russian politicians, authors and journalists, “Putin and the Presidents” reveals how the miscalculations and missteps of multiple American presidents over two decades paved the way for Putin’s attack on Ukraine — as seen through the eyes of people who were in the room.
The documentary traces how, prior to launching the war on Ukraine, Putin tested the waters by defying American presidents for 20 years — including by invading Georgia, seizing Crimea, and interfering in a U.S. presidential election. The documentary provides unique insight into the icy relationship between Putin and current U.S. President Joe Biden, both of whom were shaped by the Cold War, and into the evolution of Putin’s grievances with the U.S. and the West.
As Russia’s war on Ukraine continues, “Putin and the Presidents” gives essential context for this historic moment.
“Putin and the Presidents” is a FRONTLINE production with the Kirk Documentary Group. The director is Michael Kirk. The producers are Michael Kirk, Mike Wiser and Vanessa Fica. The writers are Michael Kirk and Mike Wiser. The reporter is Vanessa Fica. The editor-in-chief and executive producer of FRONTLINE is Raney Aronson-Rath.
Explore additional reporting on "Putin and the Presidents" on our website: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/documentary/putin-and-the-presidents/
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FRONTLINE is produced at GBH in Boston and is broadcast nationwide on PBS. Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional support for FRONTLINE is provided by the Abrams Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Park Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund, with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation, and additional support from Koo and Patricia Yuen.
Putin and the Fall of the Soviet Union - 2:21
President Clinton Meets Russia’s New President: Vladimir Putin - 4:40
Putin Sees President Bush’s Agenda to Spread Democracy as a Threat - 8:35
Putin’s ‘Red Line’ & the 2008 Russian Invasion of Georgia - 16:38
President Obama’s Relationship with Putin - 20:59
Vice President Biden and Putin: Shaped by the Cold War - 22:52
Russia Seizes Crimea From Ukraine in 2014 - 28:11
Russia’s Interference in the 2016 U.S. Election - 33:00
Putin and President Trump - 35:30
Putin, President Biden and Russia’s 2022 Invasion of Ukraine - 41:25
Credits - 51:27