Barack Obama on Wednesday became the first sitting US president to slide out of the top two power rankings as published by Forbes, beaten not just by Vladimir Putin but also Angela Merkel.


The magazine published its seventh annual ranking just weeks after Putin opened a new front in the Syria war by conducting air strikes, then Putin hosted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Moscow.


In August, Putin’s domestic approval rating soared to 87 percent, the highest level in six years, according to an independent polling center.


His intervention in Syria has seen Putin seek to muscle his way back to global influence after months of Western isolation over Ukraine.


Despite international sanctions imposed after Moscow annexed Crimea and over the conflict in Ukraine, Putin has made the US and NATO look weak, and helped rebuild Russian influence abroad, Forbes said.