Don't be fooled by the 5' 6" frame of the man George W. Bush termed "Pooty-Poot": Russian President Vladmir Putin is Time's Person of the Year for having "brought Russia back to the table of world power." The quiet man behind the steely stare snuck up to best 2007 heavyweights Al Gore and JK Rowling at perhaps their peak.
Russia is and always will be a world force, Time reasons, and Putin's no-holds-barred leadership has imposed "stability on a nation that has rarely known it." While a bastion of democracy he's not, Putin is, and will continue to be, the guiding hand reminding the West that "Russia is central to our world—and the new world that is being born." (Read more Vladimir Putin stories.)