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Putin sworn in for 5th term as Russia’s president, begins 6-year tenure

Russian President Vladimir Putin swears an oath of allegiance by placing his right hand on Russia’s constitution during his inauguration ceremony at Andreyevsky Hall in the Grand Kremlin Palace, Russia, May 7, 2024. (Photo by Reuters)

Vladimir Putin has been sworn in for a record-breaking fifth term as Russia’s president, beginning another six-year tenure amid an unprecedented confrontation with the West over the war in Ukraine.

The ceremony on Tuesday, widely boycotted by Western diplomats, was held at Andreyevsky Hall in the Grand Kremlin Palace, where 71-year-old swore an oath of allegiance by placing his right hand on Russia’s constitution.

On his orders, the Russian military launched its “special military operation” in neighboring Ukraine in February 2022 to “de-Nazify” and “de-militarize” the ex-Soviet republic seeking NATO membership.

Since the onset of the war, the West, and most notably the United States, supported Ukraine with cash and heavy weaponry while imposing unprecedented sanctions on Russian officials and entities. The US, alone, has pledged more than $44 billion in security aid to Kiev.

In his speech on Tuesday, Putin, who is in power as president or prime minister since 1999, said he wanted to “bow” before Russian soldiers there, stressing that his landslide re-election in March was proof Russia was united and on the right track.

“You, citizens of Russia, have confirmed the correctness of the country’s course. This is of great importance right now, when we are faced with serious challenges,” he said at the lavish ceremony.

“I see in this a deep understanding of our common historical goals, a determination to adamantly defend our choice, our values, freedom and the national interests of Russia,” Putin said.

Although the war has severely strained ties between Russia and the West, Putin said that he was not rejecting dialog with the West, including on nuclear weapons.

“The choice is theirs: do they intend to continue trying to restrain the development of Russia, continue the policy of aggression, incessant pressure on our country for years, or look for a path to cooperation and peace?” said Putin, whose troops are advancing gradually in eastern Ukraine.

Among others, the US has sent Ukraine the MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) and HIMARS launchers, capable of firing ATACMS missiles.

The long-range ATACMS missiles have a range of about 300 kilometers roughly four times the range of the missiles used by the mobile HIMARS systems that the US began sending to Ukraine in 2022.

Ukraine says the ATACMS missiles will help its forces strike Russian positions far behind the front lines.

This is while Moscow has repeatedly warned that such a flow of weapons to Kiev will only prolong the war.

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