Russian President Vladimir Putin drawn as superhero in an exhibition in his honor in December 2017 in Moscow
By threatening the United States with an „immediate“ response in the event of a nuclear attack, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has almost assured a fourth term in the March 18 election, has made it clear that the era of tensions with the West is far away. to end.
Except great surprise, the former KGB will win the presidential elections on March 18, which ensures power until 2024. The election campaign has been innocuous internally but instead was full of diplomatic clashes between Moscow and the Western powers.
The information site Gazeta.ru has spoken of „a new ‚Cold War'“.
At the beginning of March, Vladimir Putin, 65, praised Russia’s new weapons in a speech marked by strong military rhetoric, and one of the most bellicose that has spoken in 18 years of power.
If Russia or one of its allies is attacked with nuclear weapons „our response will be immediate,“ he said, presenting new Russian weapons labeled „invincible“.
On February 7, Washington announced that it had killed about 100 pro-regime fighters in Syria, including several Russian mercenaries. Moscow admitted that five Russian citizens died, but that they did not belong to the Russian army.
Some saw in the incident an unprecedented direct confrontation between US and Russian forces, at a time when relations between Moscow and Washington are at their lowest level, and poisoned by suspicions of Russian interference in the US presidential election in 2016.
Putin denied those accusations on Friday in an interview with NBC, and denied any involvement of Russia in the election of Donald Trump in 2016.
Electoral banner in favor of Vladimir Putin for the election of March 18
On March 6, tensions with the West flared up again when Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were left alive and dead by the administration of a neurotoxic agent. Both were found unconscious in a bank in Salisbury, in the south of England.
All eyes went to Russia but Moscow denied being behind the attack and reported being the victim of a smear campaign.
Relations between Russia and the West are at the „most toxic level since the end of the Second World War“ and „the Skripal case may affect them even more,“ according to Gazeta.ru.
– Four years of Crimea –
Alexei Navalni, main opponent of Putin and who was banned from running for election, at a rally in Moscow on February 25, 2018
But all this is positive for the candidate Putin. The image of a Russia harassed, and accused of all evils by the West, is a factor that encourages Russian voters to join and vote for him.
And this despite a reduction in their standard of living during Putin’s last term, marked by an economic recession.
In his last speech in Parliament, however, the Russian president promised measures to fight against poverty. But „campaign promises are futile and useless,“ recalls Andrei Kolesnikov, analyst at the Carnegie Center in Moscow.
Putin, with 70% of votes according to polls, clearly outperforms all his rivals. The best placed, the communist, Pável Grudinin, would obtain 7.8% of the votes.
In addition, Putin’s popularity rating soared with the annexation of the Ukrainian Crimean peninsula on March 18, 2014. The fourth anniversary of this annexation will be celebrated on the day of the presidential election.
– ‚Tyranny of the majority‘ –
The main opponent of Putin, Alexei Navalni, declared ineligible by justice until 2024, has called on voters to boycott the election.
Russia, the largest country in the world
But despite their efforts, the polls predict a participation rate of 60%, which would assure Putin of the legitimacy sought.
This could encourage him to propose a series of laws that further limit civil liberties, and increasingly affect the press and the opposition, according to critics of the Kremlin.
„A tyranny of the majority is beginning to emerge,“ says Kolesnikov. „The country remains united behind the usual anti-Western, isolationist and conservative values,“ he says.