After 18 years in power, Putin will start a new six-year term at a time of sharply deteriorating relations with Western adversaries, who accuse him of military adventurism in Ukraine and Syria and hostile attacks ranging from election meddling to attempted assassinations.
With just over three-quarters of the ballots counted, Putin led with 76.1% of the vote, according to Russia’s Central Election Commission, dominating a field otherwise made up mostly of weak and little-known figures.
Vladimir Putin cruised to victory in Sunday’s presidential elections in a result that was never in question. His fourth term as president will extend until 2024, making him the first Kremlin leader to serve two decades in power since Josef Stalin. Turnout, which was seen as a measure of the Kremlin’s legitimacy in this uncompetitive campaign, was close to 60% as of 9pm GMT on Sunday evening after a long day of voting.
Asked about the poisoning of Sergei Skripal in Britain. He said Russia did not currently have chemical weapons and it would be “nonsense” to think Russia would launch such an attack in the lead up to an election.Putin said that if the substance used in the attack had really been a military nerve agent, then it would have killed anyone targeted on the spot.