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Putin begins fifth term as Russia’s president

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Moscow, May 7: Vladimir Putin began his fifth term Tuesday as Russian leader at a glittering Kremlin inauguration, setting out on another six years in office after destroying his political opponents, launching a devastating war in Ukraine and concentrating all power in his hands.
Already in office for nearly a quarter-century and the longest-serving Kremlin leader since Josef Stalin, Putin’s new term doesn’t expire until 2030, when he will be constitutionally eligible to run again.
At the ceremony inside the gilded Grand Kremlin Palace, Putin placed his hand on the Russian Constitution and vowed to defend it as a crowd of hand-picked dignitaries looked on.
Since succeeding President Boris Yeltsin in the waning hours of 1999, Putin has transformed Russia from a country emerging from economic collapse to a pariah state that threatens global security.
Following the 2022 invasion of Ukraine that has become Europe’s biggest conflict since World War II, Russia has been heavily sanctioned by the West and is turning to other regimes like China, Iran and North Korea for support.
The question now is what the 71-year-old Putin will do over the course of another six years, both at home and abroad.
Russian forces are gaining ground in Ukraine, deploying scorched-earth tactics as Kyiv grapples with shortages of men and ammunition. Both sides are taking heavy casualties.
Ukraine has brought the battle to Russian soil through drone and missile attacks, especially in border regions. In a speech in February, Putin vowed to fulfil Moscow’s goals in Ukraine, and do what is needed to “defend our sovereignty and security of our citizens.” Shortly after his orchestrated reelection in March, Putin suggested that a confrontation between NATO and Russia is possible, and he declared he wanted to carve out a buffer zone in Ukraine to protect his country from cross-border attacks.
At home, Putin’s popularity is closely tied to improving living standards for ordinary Russians. He began his term in 2018 by promising to get Russia into the top five global economies, vowing it should be “modern and dynamic.” Instead, Russia’s economy has pivoted to a war footing, and authorities are spending record amounts on defense. (AP)

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