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Vladimir Putin Seeks 5th Presidential Term, And A New World Order

His grip on power further strengthened following his decision to invade Ukraine in February 2022.

Moscow:

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who announced Friday that he is running for a fifth term, has spent the past two decades building a regime of repression at home and confrontation with the West that makes his reelection all but certain.

Since the little-known former KGB agent first took office on New Year's Eve 1999, he has fought to bring oligarchs to their knees, ban real opposition, and turn Russia into an authoritarian state. It has strengthened its power. Abroad, he has led global efforts to counter Western domination.

His grip on power further strengthened following his decision to invade Ukraine in February 2022, and public opposition to the war was effectively silenced by long prison terms for critics.

On Friday, the 71-year-old said after a military awards ceremony in the Kremlin that he would run in the presidential election next March, as expected.

His rule risks being defined by the war in Ukraine, which has claimed thousands of lives, triggered unprecedented Western sanctions and put major strain on the economy.

Massive anti-war protests erupted in the early morning hours of February 24, 2022, the day after he ordered the deployment of troops to Ukraine.

They were quickly quelled, but further demonstrations followed months later when the government was forced to announce a partial mobilization after Russia's failure to overthrow the Ukrainian government in the early stages of the war.

The most serious challenge to his long-term rule came in June 2023, when Yevgeny Prigozhin, a longtime ally and head of the Wagner mercenary group, announced a rebellion to seize the military leadership.

The bloody uprising threatened to tarnish the image Putin has built for himself as a strategic genius who likes to compare himself to the reform-minded Tsar Peter the Great, who expanded Russia's borders.

But in recent months, Putin has demonstrated his staying power. Domestic opposition has largely been silenced, the economy is growing again, the Russian military has largely repelled a recent Ukrainian attack, and the president has resumed international travel.

I hope for early reform.

Putin started out as an intelligence officer and began his political career in the mayor's office of his hometown of St. Petersburg in 1991, just as the Soviet Union was disintegrating.

Russia's first president Yeltsin appointed him head of the FSB security department in 1998 and prime minister the following year.

It was a carefully planned strategy, culminating in Yeltsin's appointment as acting president upon his resignation.

President Putin was first elected in the March 2000 presidential election and won a second term in 2004.

His rise initially spurred hopes that Russia would reform and become a predictable democratic partner on the world stage.

Putin gained popularity by promising stability in a country still reeling from a decade of humiliation and economic turmoil following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Then-U.S. President George W. Bush praised him as an “outstanding leader.” The Russian leader became close to Germany's Gerhard Schröder and Italy's Silvio Berlusconi, even as he cracked down on the media and waged a ruthless war in Chechnya.

Twenty years later, that goodwill has disappeared.

During Putin's tenure, the fifth US president, Joe Biden, called Putin a “murderer” even before full-scale fighting began in Ukraine.

“New Iron Curtain”

After serving two terms as president, Putin returned to the post of prime minister in 2008 to circumvent the constitutional ban on serving more than two consecutive terms.

But he maintained a firm grip on the reins of power, returning to the presidency in 2012 despite pro-democracy protests in Moscow and winning a fourth term in 2018.

In 2021, he jailed his most vocal rival, Alexei Navalny, shortly after Western countries and opposition leaders accused him of ordering Navalny to be poisoned with a Soviet-made nerve agent.

After the start of hostilities in Ukraine, a crackdown on the anti-government movement intensified, with thousands of Russians sentenced to long prison terms under newly strengthened censorship laws.

Western countries imposed sanctions that effectively cut Russia off from the global banking system, further reinforcing the siege mentality of the Russian leadership.

In October, President Putin accused Europe of building a “new iron curtain” and said Russia was building a “new world” not based on Western hegemony.

He has also increasingly promoted a domestic agenda of nationalism and social conservatism, including recent laws against Russia's LGBTQ community.

growing confidence

After the invasion, the Russian strongman, known as persona non grata among Western leaders, pivoted eastward, attracting India and China with increased energy exports.

After contracting in 2022, Russia's economy started growing again in the second quarter of this year, despite high inflation, a weak ruble, and a significant increase in defense spending.

The war failed in its original objective of overthrowing the Ukrainian government, and Russia suffered a series of humiliating setbacks due to the determined defense of the much smaller Ukrainian army.

But as the war approaches its second anniversary, President Putin is speaking increasingly confidently about Russia's prospects on the battlefield — a topic he has avoided for months.

Russian forces have successfully thwarted a much-touted Ukrainian counterattack, raising questions about the continued supply of Western military supplies.

Bickering in Washington in recent weeks has held up tens of billions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine, prompting alarming warnings from Washington.

“Congress must decide whether to continue supporting Ukraine's fight for freedom or ignore the lessons of history and allow President Putin to win,” said National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. There must be,” he said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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