Vladimir Putin has made the long-expected announcement that he will seek a new six-year presidential term at elections in March. If he wins, which he almost certainly will, Putin will have spent 24 years as Russian leader by the end of his term in 2024, including four years when he was prime minister but still called the shots. “I will put forward my candidacy for the post of president of the Russian Federation,” said Putin during a meeting with factory workers in the city of Nizhny Novgorod on Wednesday afternoon. “Russia will continue moving forwards, and nobody will ever be able to stop this forward movement,” he said, in what may be an early sign that the campaign would invoke nationalist rhetoric of a Russia facing off against a hostile west.
Putin has spent a year dodging the question about whether he would run in the elections. Even earlier on Wednesday the Russian president was coy about seeking re-election when he took to the stage at a youth volunteer forum in Moscow and was asked the question directly.
“I want to ask, do you trust and support me?” Putin asked the audience, which prompted a resounding chorus of “Yes!”
“The decision will be taken and announced in the near future,” said Putin, without making it clear just how soon.