What makes Putin tick, and why he invaded the Ukraine
by Air Chief Marshal Sir John Cheshire

Date: Tuesday 8 October 2024

Putin’s influences and experience in his formative years and how they have shaped his attitudes today.

John was born in 1942, during WW ll, in Doncaster when his father was Air Attaché in Moscow. He was then educated at Ipswich School, Worksop College and the RAF College at Cranwell.

From 1963 – 1980, his world-wide flying and staff duties were largely involved with air support for the special forces. The only exceptions were when he returned to Cranwell as an instructor for a year in 1970; another year at Staff College in Canada; and a tour in Air Plans in the MOD in late 1970s.

Between 1980 and 1985 John had back-to-back command tours: first as the Commander of the Sultan of Brunei’s Air Force and then as the Station Commander at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire.

After 18 months of Russian language training, he was then posted to the Embassy in Moscow in 1988 as the Defence and Air Attaché. He was in Moscow when the Berlin Wall came down; and when the Soviet authorities expelled a number of British military attaches in a ‘tit-for-tat’ retaliation, following the expulsion of Soviet attaches from London.

On return to the UK at the end of 1990, John spent a year as Deputy Commandant of the RAF Staff College at Bracknell before his next overseas tour at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Mons in Belgium.

This was the first of three consecutive tours in NATO.

The second was as the British Military Representative in the NATO headquarters in Brussels; and finally as the Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces Northwest Europe.

John retired from the RAF in 2000 at the end of almost 40 years in uniform.

The next 5 years were spent as the Lieutenant Governor of Jersey.

Very sadly, John lost his wife, Sam, to cancer in 2016 after 31 domestic moves and 52 years of married life. They have one daughter and one son who now keep a watchful and diligent eye on their octogenarian father.




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