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Vladimir Putin's fifth term and Russia's near future
Ambassador Tran Duc Mau 21:21, 2024/03/16
Now, this year's presidential election would give him the possibility to become Russia's longest-serving leader since Josef Stalin in the first half of the last century.

It is time again for a new presidential election in Russia, the eighth one, and Russian incumbent president Vladimir Putin is almost set to become the winner.

 Putin is set to become Russia's longest-serving leader since Josef Stalin. Photo: AFP/VNA

This electoral result is widely believed in Russia as well as in the world outside Russia. It would give Putin his fifth presidential term. Almost three years ago, the way for Putin to extend his reign over Russia until 2030 with the option to get one other six-year presidential term was paved by the constitutional amendment in 2021. Putin came to power in Russia in the last days of 1999 and has been ruling over Russia since then with four terms as president and one term as prime minister. Now, this year's presidential election would give him the possibility to become Russia's longest-serving leader since Josef Stalin in the first half of the last century.

While the final electoral outcome is clear and predictable, this election remains very special and remarkable. For the first time, it was held in war-time for Russia and Russians. For more than two years, Russia has been at war with Ukraine and in an all-sided confrontation with the West. Russia and Russia showed surprising resilience but have been paying high prices because of the Ukraine war and the West's multi-faced sanctions.  As long as the Ukraine war still lasts and Russia's confrontation with the West continues, Russia and Russians will still have to pay these prices and even higher prices. And Russian voters knew and know Putin, his domestic and foreign policies and ambitions, are aware of what he will do during his fifth presidential term. Therefore, this election is a kind plebiscite on his reigning achievements and credibility for the next 6 years. That is why Putin has very much to care about in this election. He would need the highest possible voter turnout and votes for himself. He needs the convincing legalization of his power and the picture showing Russians gathering around him. He needs all that to do what he intended to do in his fifth presidential term.

And that will directly affect Russia's near future. After having won this election, Putin would see no reason to restrain from the war in Ukraine and the confrontation with the West. In contrast, he will firmly push them to the end he wanted to reach from the beginning. That is why the West and Ukraine have more than enough well-founded reasons to be deeply concerned. Putin's fifth presidential term in Russia would be the worst scenario for Ukraine and the West in the coming 6 years. Putin in his fifth term as Russia's president wouldn't be the same Putin as he was in the times before. So would Russia be. Europe would deeply sink into separation between Russia and the rest of the continent, still far away from gaining security and stability again. Because the West is deathly determined to defeat Russia in Ukraine and Europe, it would be more and more difficult to quickly find any proper ways and means to peacefully end the war in Ukraine.

Disclaimer: The reflections expressed by Ambassador Tran Duc Mau are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Hanoi Times.

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