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What Putin’s re-election means for the world

Putin is likely to rule Russia for the next six years. So, what’s in store for the world?

What Putin’s re-election means for the world

This week, Russian President Vladimir Putin, 71, was re-elected for his fifth term, extending his tenure until 2030. The voter turnout in the election held from 15-17 March hit 75%, up from 74% in 2018. Putin secured 87.4% of the vote this time against 67.5% in 2018.

While the exact scale of electoral rigging is uncertain, it’s clear that the manipulation seen in Putin’s initial 2000 election pales in comparison to current levels.

In the eastern parts of Ukraine annexed by Russia in 2022, elections took place over 20 days starting 25 February. Election commission staff, accompanied by the military, went door to door with ballot boxes, partly to make it easier for the voters and partly to intimidate them.

United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres deemed polls in the annexed territories as invalid. The US and other Western nations have also drawn attention to rigging in the election.

Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Alexei Navalny—a political adversary of Putin who recently died in prison—voted at the Russian embassy in Berlin, writing her husband’s name on the ballot paper. She had called for a “noon protest,” urging voters to gather and form long queues. Thousands responded to her call in a mark of protest against Putin.

In Russia, meanwhile, some voters expressed their protest by setting fire to polling stations.

Despite the allegations of election cheating, Putin will rule Russia for the next six years. So, what’s in store for Russia, Ukraine, the West, and the rest of the world, including India?


In his victory speech, Putin, in a choreographed scene surrounded by a group of teenage voters, made it clear that one of his priorities is to strengthen the military. There’s speculation that he might enforce conscription of male adults within a certain age range. Obviously, unpopular measures will be announced only after the election.

According to Western estimates, about 7 million Russians have gone into self-exile to evade being drafted. Whether even more Russians leave the country remains to be seen. 


Putin’s re-election may not change much on the economic front and the previous policy is likely to continue. Until now, the Russian central bank has been propping up the ruble. However, if the bank stops doing it to promote exports, there is likely to be higher inflation. 

Western sanctions and their freezing of $300 billion central bank assets have done much damage to Russia’s economy. But it is also equally true that the Russian economy has survived the sanctions with the help of China, India, and others.


Putin is likely to continue his offensive and pursue further territorial gains in Ukraine. He must have also gauged the incoherence in the Western response. While French President Emmanuel Macron said sending NATO troops to Ukraine should not be ruled out, the US and Germany ruled out any such possibility. In response to Macron, Putin warned that such an act would be treated as “intervention” by NATO and will have “unpredictable” consequences.

Weapons race

Relations between Russia and the West are likely to deteriorate before they get better. Nuclear arms control has come to a standstill. Moscow has also reversed its ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), a treaty never ratified by Washington. 

Even before Putin’s re-election, the military-industrial complex in the West had benefited from increased expenditure on buying arms for Ukraine. This trend will get stronger. 

Russia’s ties with Africa, Asia

Russia’s influence in Africa is growing as Niger ends a defense deal with the US, which had stationed about a thousand troops there. This shift paves the way for a stronger Russian paramilitary presence in Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, and possibly beyond, putting France and the US at a disadvantage.

Russia will endeavor, with success, to strengthen and deepen its axis with China.

India will continue with its rather neutral position on the war in Ukraine, while Russia will continue to hold on to its position as a major arms supplier to India. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Putin on his re-election in a phone call on Wednesday, 21 March, and subsequently called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Nuclear action

Will Putin resort to mini nukes in Ukraine? Most unlikely. 

However, the possibility that he might issue a specific ultimatum threatening a nuclear attack to achieve his goals without actually executing the threat, as detailed in a previous article, cannot be ruled out.


There is no reason to believe that Russia will move toward democracy in the foreseeable future.

In effect, we might be witnessing   a global retreat of democracy.


KP Fabian is a diplomat who served in the Indian Foreign Service between 1964 and 2000. He is currently a distinguished fellow at the Symbiosis Law School in Pune. More

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