Putin’s election victory hailed by allies, decried by West

The world reacts to Putin's re-election in Russia.

Russia’s election commission on Monday hailed what it called Vladimir Putin’s “record” victory in the presidential election, claiming that he had won 87.28% of the vote. It claimed that turnout was also a record high of 77%.

The results came amid Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the country’s crackdown on opposition and free speech. Only three candidates were allowed to run against Putin, and none of them opposed his war in Ukraine. The three rivals each received between 3.2% and 4.3% of the vote, according to the commission.

Putin’s friends around the world were quick to congratulate him. Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory message to Putin on his re-election, state media reported. According to Xi, Putin’s victory “fully reflects” the support of the Russian people.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a congratulatory message to re-elected Putin, said he looked forward to strengthening ties to develop their “special” relationship. “Look forward to working together to further strengthen the time-tested ‘special and privileged strategic partnership’ between India and Russia in the years to come,” Modi wrote on X.

Photo: AP

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi sent a note reading: “The President of the Islamic Republic of Iran in a message sincerely congratulated Vladimir Putin on his decisive victory and re-election as the President of the Russian Federation,” state news agency IRNA reported.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un also sent a congratulatory letter to Putin on his re-election, the state news agency KCNA reported.

Meanwhile, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said: “Our older brother has triumphed, which bodes well for the world.”

Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik said that his people “welcomed with joy the victory of President Putin for they see in him a great statesman and a friend on whom we can always count.”

Photo: Vlada RS

Western reaction to Putin’s win

At the same time, the Russian leader’s victory was rejected by the West. “Putin’s re-election was based on repression and intimidation,” said the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, adding that the elections in Russia were not free and fair. A subsequent joint statement by all 27 European Union countries said Russians had been denied a “real choice” after all candidates who opposed the war in Ukraine were excluded. The EU also condemned the staging of the vote in regions of Ukraine occupied by Russia, saying it “does not and will never recognise either the holding of these so-called ‘elections’ in the territories of Ukraine or their results.”

According to German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, it was “an election without choice”. She added that the EU would pave the way for new sanctions against Russia.

Photo: AP /Ebrahim Noroozi

The US also dismissed the fairness of the vote: “The elections are obviously not free nor fair given how Mr Putin has imprisoned political opponents and prevented others from running against him,” the White House said.

Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

France’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the re-election of Putin took place in a context of repression of civil society and that the conditions for a free and democratic election were not met.

NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that presidential elections in Russia were “neither free nor fair”. Speaking at a news conference in Tbilisi, Georgia, Stoltenberg added that Russia’s organisation of elections “in occupied parts of Georgia and Ukraine” was “completely illegal”.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Cameron said the “illegal” elections featured “a lack of choice for voters and no independent OSCE monitoring”. “This is not what free and fair elections look like,” he added.

Photo: PA Media

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said the elections were neither free nor fair. “We are continuing to work for a just peace that will bring Russia to put an end to the war of aggression against Ukraine, in accordance with international law,” he added.

Photo: Fotogramma

The election was called a “farce and parody” by Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky. “This was the Russian presidential election that showed how this regime suppresses civil society, independent media, opposition,” he said.

Photo: Lukáš Bíba

Main photo: AFP/Alexander Nemenov

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