G20 summit
Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives at the Hangzhou Exhibition Center to participate in the G20 Summit in Hangzhou. Etienne Oliveau/ Getty Images

Vladimir Putin's brother, Viktor, died 70 years ago, during the Siege of Leningrad, in a strikingly similar scenario to current scenes facing residents in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo.

In an essay published in Russkiy Pioner magazine in 2008, the Russian president gave rare details about his personal life and spoke of the realities his family faced in the destroyed Soviet capital between 1941-1944.

He told how his father had six brothers – five of whom were killed during the war – along with some of his mother's relatives, according to the Mirror.

During the two year, four month siege, Leningrad – which was renamed Saint Petersburg, its original name, in 1991 – water and power supplies were cut off, and disease was rife as a Nazi Germany blockade stopped essential humanitarian supplies, including food, from entering the city.

Putin also told how his emaciated mother was carried out of a crumbling building on a stretcher close to death, after two-year-old Viktor, died from diphtheria and starvation, following months of siege and violent war. Putin's other brother, Albert, was born in the 1930s but died in infancy.

In details that echo Syria's harrowing conflict, Putin recounted that it was only years after Viktor's death that his family discovered where he had been buried – in a mass grave at Piskarevskoye Cemetery with 500,000 others.

He told how his father, Vladimir, nursed his mother, Maria, back to health, and she lived until 1999.

Writing in a separate article for the same magazine, he said: "I often heard grown-ups talking about it during my childhood. It was a catastrophe for the family. My mother lost her family too. And I was a late child. She had me when she was 41.

"But no one in my family was left untouched by the siege. Everyone put up with sorrow, despair, tragedy. But the surprising thing is that they didn't hate the enemy."

Putin was born in 1952, seven years after the siege ended in 1944.

However, his alliance with Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad means thousands have been subjected to the same torturous conditions his family faced.

Syria's bloody civil war is the greatest humanitarian crisis the world has seen since the Second World War, with 13 million people in need of crucial humanitarian assistance.