Ivan Pushkin began in counterintelligence in Soviet Russia as part of SMERSH. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, he became heavily involved in the Russian mafia, and eventually created a wide power base. As a powerful head of the Russian mafia, Pushkin's ruthless and unmerciful tactics earned him the name Ivan the Terrible. It is not enough to kill an enemy, he desires to psychologically break them and make them subservient to him first.
Due to Maverick's high threshold for pain and occasional meddling, Pushkin takes perverse pleasure in attempting to break him. He had Maverick kidnapped and implanted memories in his mind. He then sent Maverick to kill Major Arthur Barrington, a frequent ally of Maverick's who was endangering Pushkin's business interests. Pushkin later kidnapped Maverick again as a precaution during preparation for a theft of A.I.M. weaponry.
Pushkin frequently enlists his personal bodyguards, Hammer and Sickle, in his machinations. However, he will employ additional help, such as Omega Red and the Confessor, should it be warranted.