It should not come as a shock to anyone that Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to run again in Russia’s 2024 presidential election, according to a Reuters report on Monday which cited six anonymous sources, given especially the war (or rather, ‘special military operation’) that he authorized in Ukraine is still in full swing.
“The decision has been made — he will run,” one source was quoted in Reuters as saying. A 2024 run would mark his fifth term as president, and the legal path was paved when in 2020 the Russian population voted to overwhelmingly approve an overhaul to the national constitution.
Assuming he would again win by a landslide, this means that 71-year old Putin could theoretically stay in power until 2036 (assuming two more back-to-back terms). He would be 83-years old that year.
In power since 2000, those prior changes to the law allow him to run for two more terms in the Kremlin once his current term ends in 2024. The law now in effect basically “resets” his number of terms already served, which considerably stretch all the way back to 2000 (excepting Dmitry Medvedev’s stint as president, 2008-2012).
According to some key quotes in the new Reuters report:
As Moscow faces increased pressure from its protracted war in Ukraine and Western sanctions, “major change [in political leadership] would not be expedient,” one of Reuter’s sources said, adding that “Russia is facing the combined might of the West.”
“The world we look out upon is very dangerous,” said another source, who like the others was granted anonymity due to the sensitive nature of Kremlin politics.
An anonymous foreign diplomatic source said Putin’s announcement would come “soon.”
One early indicator of Putin’s intentions was on display all the way back in 2020, when he told reporters while discussing at that time the proposed constitutional changes, “I do not rule out the possibility of running for office, if this comes up in the Constitution. We’ll see.” He has also said at the time, “I have not decided anything for myself yet,” according to the prior state television interview statements.
Very likely, the Russian population will rally around desiring a ‘strong’ and ‘proven’ leader that can stand up to the West, and to Washington and NATO in particular, again especially given the proxy war nature of what’s happening in Ukraine. But it remains that among some sectors, the war is unpopular given reports of a huge Russian death toll. The numbers of young men coming back either in coffins or severely maimed from war has certainly had an impact among many common Russian families.
It’s been many years since Putin actually had any significant challengers who had major name recognition in Russia (even during Medvedev’s rule, Putin was seen as the ‘real power’ while in the prime minister’s role). The West would chalk this up to the Kremlin oppressing or locking up any political rivals or oppositionists (like Navalny, who never actually polled very high regardless) – while many Russians would see in Putin national unity and strength.