Putin frames presidential campaign as confrontation with the West

Fri Mar 15 2024
Nikki Bailey (1351 articles)
Putin frames presidential campaign as confrontation with the West

With a huge turnout, the Kremlin hopes to secure the next six years of power for Russia’s Putin, who is practically expected to win.

There was little space for surprise in the videos that splashed across Russian television screens leading up to the presidential election this past weekend. In charge of development? It inquired. Who ensures consistency? What brings people together? What about those whom you trust?

The announcer exclaimed, “Only in him!” as a highlight reel showed Vladimir Putin being pampered by admiring audiences, meeting with Asian and Arab leaders on red carpets, and working in his office.

Putin has spared no effort in his campaign for reelection as president of Russia, which starts on Friday. He stands a good chance of becoming the country’s longest-reigning leader since Joseph Stalin if he is successful. Opponents have been imprisoned or have escaped, while prospective opponents have been removed from the ballot. His most formidable opponent, Alexei Navalny, has passed away after becoming unwell while serving a 30-year term in an Arctic jail cell, according to Russian authorities.

The Russian leader has gained support due to a number of factors, including handouts for families who lost loved ones in the conflict in Ukraine, a relatively robust economy, and new plans to invest billions of dollars to combat poverty and restore Russia’s outdated infrastructure.

The message leading up to Sunday’s vote was cautious to portray Putin as the sole man capable of uniting the country and rescuing Russia from its Western adversaries.

According to Samuel Greene, director for democratic resilience at the Center for European Policy Analysis in Washington, D.C., he has taken great care to ensure that no one else on the ballot has a vision for the future. What Putin is trying to say is that he is the key to the country’s future.

Putin, Russia’s leader, has nominated himself to run for office and is virtually certain to win. If he does, he will further isolate Russia from the West over the conflict in Ukraine and Putin’s vision of Russia’s proper role in the global community. That said, it is important to note that the vote does matter. According to experts, the Kremlin is eager to show that they are serious about democracy in the hopes of bolstering Putin’s influence through a large turnout.

According to Nikolai Petrov, a consultant fellow at the British think tank Chatham House, the absolute quantity of votes is the primary concern for the Kremlin. Putin should have a higher turnout and more votes cast for him than in 2018, showing that the people back their leader during the war. There was a 67.5% turnout in the most recent presidential election. The speaker went on to say that even governors want to show their efficiency and commitment by presenting high stats.

The ballot includes opposition candidates, who were thoroughly investigated, in order to make the voting look more like an actual election. These three rarely defy the Kremlin’s demands because they are members of sanctioned opposition groups in parliament. Two local politicians, Boris Nadezhdin and Yekaterina Duntsova, who were against the war in Ukraine, were barred from running for office due to what the election commission claimed were paperwork issues; thus, no wild cards were allowed.

According to Greene, a professor of Russian politics at King’s College London, in the past, they would allow someone on the ballot who may perhaps compete to prove that they were strong enough to defeat them. This time, they are not going to play that game.

Government opponents said that the ruling regime’s control over voting machines, electronic ballots, and the election commission made the result of the vote practically certain.

According to Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an exiled Russian businessman and opposition campaigner, the election commission “will cook up figures in accordance with instructions that have already been issued by the Kremlin” during a media conference on Wednesday.

According to Khodorkovsky, a former political prisoner, the country’s political opposition, including Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Navalny, has banded together to urge people to cast their ballots at noon on March 17 and, for the courageous, to wear blue and white, the colors that have come to represent resistance to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A large number of us are not sidelined, that is the point, according to Khodorkovsky, who is a Putin opponent.

Coming at polling places at the same time is a crime that can be prosecuted, according to the Moscow Prosecutor’s Office, since it hinders residents’ ability to exercise their right to vote freely.

Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for the president, said last week, “Our democracy is the best,” in response to criticism from abroad. Concerning the claims that the election results have already been manipulated, the Kremlin chose not to answer when contacted for comment.

Putin, meanwhile, urged Russians to do their civic duty and vote for the candidate they preferred in a Thursday televised speech.

Putin expressed his belief that you comprehend the challenging times our nation is presently experiencing and the numerous obstacles we confront across several domains. We must remain together and self-assured.

Russia and the eastern Ukrainian regions annexed by Moscow in 2022 will both host the election, albeit none of those locations are completely under Russian authority. Russia finally took control of the eastern Ukrainian town of Avdiivka in February after months of stalemate, and now there is a voting precinct there as well.

Putin has avoided traditional forms of campaigning like television debates in favor of carrying out his presidential duties as usual, which include meeting with youth organizations and collaborating with government officials to devise development plans.

He might not even have to. Some 86% of Russians approve of Putin’s work as president, according to the Levada Center, an independent polling agency. However, experts argue that many are scared to say anything negative about the Russian leader.

This rule doesn’t seem to apply when Putin poses as an adversary to the United States. In contrast to the politicization of support for Ukraine in Washington, Putin encounters little internal resistance to the conflict, with the exception of occasional demonstrations by mothers and spouses who want to see their husbands returned home from the front. His confidence has grown, enabling him to taunt and incite the West, according to Kremlin observers.

He visited the far-flung Far East region of Chukotka in January, marking his first official visit to the area. Chukotka shares a marine border with Alaska across the Bering Strait. In addition, Putin unannouncedly visited Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave situated between the NATO member states of Poland and Lithuania, which were formerly territories of the Russian Empire but are now independent nations.

He boarded the largest supersonic aircraft in military aviation history—a modified Tu-160M nuclear-capable strategic bomber—in February for a flight. Just a few days later, in his opening comments to the nation’s Federal Assembly, he boasted about Russia’s nuclear capability and threatened a nuclear war if the friends of Ukraine started to play a bigger role in the invasion. Even though a nuclear conflict is highly improbable, Putin brought it up again on Wednesday.

“We are ready to use weapons, including any weapons,” he declared during an interview on state television. “If our independence and sovereignty are being threatened by the very existence of the Russian state.”

Defending what he claims are the ancient Orthodox principles of Russia while simultaneously challenging the West seems to be Putin’s current strategy for the long run. Russian dominance is now defined by a large-scale geopolitical battle with the West, according to Greene.

“Interestingly enough, all he wants from the West is for them to play along,” he stated. He requires a menacing West. He counts on Western skepticism of Russia for his survival. He is dependent on the West’s rejection of both himself and the idea that it is rejecting regular Russians.

Nikki Bailey

Nikki Bailey

Nikki Bailey reports on US Stocks. She covers also economy and related aspects. She has been tracking US Stock markets for several years now. She is based in New York