While his nation waded deeper into the Syrian civil war, Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, spent his 63rd birthday on the ice Wednesday, October 7, playing hockey with NHL stars and various Russian officials and tycoons in Sochi. For years, Russia's leader has cultivated a populist image in the Russian media.
Putin holds a cat as he inspects housing built for victims of wildfires in the village of Krasnopolye, in a region in southeastern Siberia, Russia, on Friday, September 4.
Putin, left, and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev jokingly toast at a lunch during a meeting at the Black Sea resort in Sochi, Russia, on Sunday, August 30.
Putin exercises during his meeting with Medvedev on August 30.