MOSCOW, Nov 6 (Reuters) – Vladimir Putin has decided to run in March’s presidential election, a move that will keep him in power until at least 2030, with the Kremlin leader saying he must guide Russia to through the most perilous period in decades, six sources told Reuters.
After defusing an armed mutiny by mercenary group leader Wagner in June, Putin moved to consolidate support from his core base in the security forces, armed forces and regional voters outside Moscow, while Wagner was firmly brought into line. .
Russian defense, armaments and global budget spending has soared while Putin has made numerous public appearances, including in the regions, in recent months.
“The decision has been made: he will show up,” said one of the sources familiar with the plan.
Another source, also close to Kremlin thinking, confirmed that a decision had been made and that Putin’s advisers were preparing for his participation. Three other sources indicated that the decision to run in the March 2024 presidential election had been made.
The sources spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of Kremlin politics.
One said a choreographed allusion was expected to arrive within a few weeks, confirming a Kommersant report. newspaper report last month.
While many diplomats, spies and officials have said they expect Putin to remain in power for life, there has so far been no specific confirmation of Putin’s plans to run for office.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin had not yet commented on the issue, adding: “The campaign has not yet been officially announced.”
RUSSIA AT WAR
Putin, 71, who was named president by Boris Yeltsin on the last day of 1999, has already been president longer than any other Russian leader since Joseph Stalin, even surpassing Leonid Brezhnev’s 18-year tenure.
Diplomats say there are no serious rivals who could threaten Putin’s chances at the polls if the incumbent president runs again. The former KGB spy appreciates approval ratings by 80%, can count on the support of the state and state media, and there is virtually no opposition from the general public to his continued rule.
Yet Putin faces the most serious challenges any Kremlin leader has faced since Mikhail Gorbachev found himself grappling with the collapse of the Soviet Union more than three decades ago.
The war in Ukraine sparked the biggest confrontation with the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and resulting Western sanctions caused the biggest external shock to the Russian economy in decades.
Inflation has accelerated as the ruble has fallen since the start of the war, and defense spending will represent almost a third of Russia’s total budgetary expenditure in 2024, as shown in the government’s draft plans.
But the greatest direct threat to Putin’s continued power came in June, when Russia’s most powerful mercenary, Yevgeny Prigozhin, led a short-lived mutiny.
Prigozhin was killed in a plane crash two months to the day after the mutiny, and Putin has since used the Defense Ministry and National Guard to expand his allies’ control over the remnants of the Wagner force.
The West portrays Putin as a war criminal and dictator who led Russia into an imperial-style land grab that weakened Russia and forged a Ukrainian state, while uniting the West and giving NATO a renewed sense of its mission.
Putin, however, presents the war as part of a much broader struggle with the United States that the Kremlin elite say is aimed at dividing Russia, seizing its vast natural resources, and then turn towards a settling of scores with China.
“Russia faces the combined power of the West, so a major change would not be timely,” one of the sources said.
For some Russians, however, the war exposed the flaws of post-Soviet Russia.
Jailed Russian opponent Alexei Navalny says Putin has led Russia into a strategic impasse toward ruin by building a fragile system of control. corrupt courtiers it will ultimately bequeath chaos rather than stability.
“Russia is moving backwards” Oleg Orlov, one of Russia’s most respected human rights defenders, told Reuters in July. “We left communist totalitarianism, but we have now returned to a different type of totalitarianism.”
Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Jon Boyle
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