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As Putin Prepares For Re-Election, Here's 4 Bizarre Things He's Doing This Week

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during the We Are Together award ceremony, on December 4, 2023 in Moscow, Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during the We Are Together award ceremony, on December 4, 2023 in Moscow, Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during the We Are Together award ceremony, on December 4, 2023 in Moscow, Russia.

Russian president Vladimir Putin seems particularly keen to be in the public eye at the moment.

It’s a sign he’s preparing for his re-election campaign – he is soon expected to announce that he will be putting himself forward for another six-year term in March when Russia’s presidential elections begin.

Putin will most likely hold onto his place in the Kremlin, having led Russia as president or prime minister since 1999.

He is just six years away from becoming the country’s longest-serving ruler since the 18th Century, and currently has no mainstream backlash to what is widely seen as his authoritarian rule.

Still, Putin and his team like to outwardly support the idea of a democracy – so his public appearances are likely to ramp up ahead of the presidential election.

Here’s what he’s been up to already this week – and what else he has planned...

1. Granting children’s wishes

On Monday, he hung out with some schoolchildren while writing on a large whiteboard about his hopes for their future.

He also looked through their wishes pinned to a Christmas tree and selected those he said he wanted to make come true, according to Reuters.

2. Looking at a fake nuclear button

The president has been keen to emphasis the strength of Russia’s nuclear power ever since he invaded Ukraine, using it to threaten the West if he thought they were becoming too involved in the war.

On Monday, Putin was given an explanation of a Soviet nuclear bomb design while touring an exhibition of Russian achievements.

He looked at images of a nuclear blast and the accompanying mushroom cloud, while also inspecting a replica of fSoviet Union leader Josef Stalin’s office.

He declined to press the simulated nuclear button during his tour, according to Reuters.

3. Meeting foreign ambassadors at the Kremlin

He accepted the credentials of more more than 20 new foreign ambassadors to the Kremlin – including representatives from the UK and Germany – on Monday.

Putin used the meeting to blame the September 2020 blasts to the Nord Stream pipeline – which sent Russian gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea – for the fracture in Russian-German relations.

“Energy has always been an attractive area of bilateral cooperation,” he said. “This cooperation was literally disrupted by the sabotage on the Nord Stream pipelines.”

Russia denies any responsibility for the damage to the pipelines, instead accusing the US, the UK and Ukraine for the incident.

Putin also said he wanted Moscow and London’s relationship to be improve, saying: “Let us hope that the situation will change for the better in the interests of our two countries and peoples.”

Both Germany and the UK are keen allies of Ukraine, which Putin did not mention.

Despite these seemingly warm words, he decided to keep a firm distance of around 70ft from all of the ambassadors during the Kremlin ceremony.

Putin delivering a speech at a ceremony to receive credentials from newly appointed foreign ambassadors to Russia at the Kremlin in Moscow on December 4, 2023
Putin delivering a speech at a ceremony to receive credentials from newly appointed foreign ambassadors to Russia at the Kremlin in Moscow on December 4, 2023

Putin delivering a speech at a ceremony to receive credentials from newly appointed foreign ambassadors to Russia at the Kremlin in Moscow on December 4, 2023

4. Visiting UAE and Saudi Arabia

Although the international criminal court has an arrest warrant out for Putin – accusing him of the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children – the president plans to travel later this week.

That’s according to reports from the Russian news outlet Shot, which cite Putin’s aide Yury Ushakov.

Putin will be going to the United Arab Emirates first – where the UN’s annual climate conference, COP, is still ongoing – and then to Saudi Arabia to negotiate with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Neither of these countries (much like Russia and China) are members of the international criminal court, meaning Putin can travel there without fear of being arrested.

This is a big deal, as he has rarely travelled in recent years, although he did go to China in October.

It’s part of his efforts to build connections outside of the West, which has imposed harsh sanctions on Russia since the war in Ukraine began.

What about next week?

The re-election bid is expected to be announced next week, during a news conference and phone-in where viewers from across Russia can contribute and ask Putin a question.

Staff wearing “Team Putin” t-shirts will answer phone calls from the public for hours, and state TV is already preparing for it. This will be the 20th time such a conference has been held.

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