efe-epaSt. Petersburg

Some say that Vladimir Putin talks, walks, looks and moves like a robot. They are wrong.

For the fourth year in a row, the CEOs of the world's top 10 news agencies met in St. Petersburg with the leader of Russia, and once again we could see that Putin may seem to be hard and cold as a robot, but in reality is as much a human being as anyone else.

He gestures a lot when he talks, smiles and laughs, and cracks jokes in a Soviet-era style.

Putin is made of flesh and blood like you or me, something you notice the moment you shake hands and realize he is not as cold as it may seem, but rather completely normal in both temperature and temperament.

It is another matter altogether whether Putin may or may not like the cold reality of cybernetics, today's hyper-global world of guerrilla warfare trolls and hackers, propaganda networks, post-truth and "fake news."

A high-technology world where mobile phones enable someone's footsteps to be followed anywhere in the world, or for conversations to be recorded, or for personal records to be wiped out by computer viruses.

Normally, this would be a dream come true for any self-respecting spy worthy of that name.

Let's not forget that Putin was a KGB agent and someone who continued being a spy after the KGB revamped itself.

Some say he has run the Kremlin for the past 18 years using the same techniques that he learned at the KGB.

Putin is not a robot, although from a distance he might actually appear to be one.

He has a wax-like gaze, fixed and intense, the movement of his fingers, his ultra-fine lips and even the immovable verbal delivery of his well-crafted words could not be further from the manner used by Donald Trump.

Is Trump a friend of his? I asked him this question clearly and straightforwardly, and he replied that he does not know him personally, although he likes his sincerity and spontaneity.

He said he was neither his friend nor his enemy, quite the opposite. That is, you think what you want because no one is going to contradict you.

And the cyber war? Some say that Putin has set up an army of trolls (network activists) and hackers to constantly influence the world.

This cyber-army would be housed in the guts of the most archaic and seemingly obsolete buildings of this city, once Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, with the clear mission of winning on the Internet all the battles that the Russian leader cannot win today through the force of arms.

Cyber war? Hillary Clinton's election defeat has been attributed to Putin's cyber-army. As was a hacker attack that struck Estonian banks for a week. The same has been said of why Serbia changed its mind about the European Union, or made voters in the Netherlands cast ballots against the incorporation of Ukraine into Europe.

How? With the permanent action of the trolls that flood messages of all kinds onto social networks, or through the use of worms or computer viruses capable of drilling down into the brains of the most intelligent computers.

Putin says he does not know anything about cyber war or cyber attacks, trolls or hackers, at least as something officially attributable to Russia, and that, of course, Moscow was not behind all the evils that haunt the world.

What is undeniably true is that Vladimir Vladimirovich's prestige, after 18 years at the helm of Eastern Europe's most powerful nation, remains intact.

This despite the sanctions for the Russian annexation of Crimea, the war in eastern Ukraine, the economic crisis, the Syrian conflict, the cyber-Cold War or his involvement in the Panama Papers scandal.

How long will Putin rule? Some believe that it will be forever. He will probably win next year's presidential elections if he runs _ he will _ although rumors to the contrary abound right now.

He told us in that regard: "Now is not the moment" to talk about that subject. Not for now.

Putin is not a robot, it is true; but nowadays he is far superior to Western leaders when it comes to agility, quickness, reflexes, opportunism, malice and perhaps even wickedness.

He proved that once again on Thursday at the Constantine Palace _ his official St. Petersburg residence _ before the heads of the world's main news agencies, regaling us with two hours of his precious time.

Therefore, there are many of us who think there's still much more Putin to come.

By José Antonio Vera