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Monday June 24, 2024

Putin tells West: Russia will talk only on equal terms

71-year-old former KGB spy exuded confidence in carefully choreographed inauguration

By Reuters
May 08, 2024
Russian President Vladimir Putin walks before his inauguration ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia May 7, 2024. — Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin walks before his inauguration ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia May 7, 2024. — Reuters

MOSCOW: Vladimir Putin, honoured like a Russian tsar at his swearing-in for a new six-year presidential term, had a double-edged message for the West: the Kremlin is ready to talk but Russia is girding for victory in Ukraine.

Putin, who rose to the top of the Kremlin just eight years after the fall of the Soviet Union, will overtake Josef Stalin and become Russia’s longest-serving ruler since Empress Catherine the Great if he completes the term.

The 71-year-old former KGB spy exuded confidence in the carefully choreographed inauguration which the West and opponents, who are mainly in jail or abroad, cast as a fig leaf of democracy covering a corrupt Russian autocracy.

As the Russian elite waited in the Hall of Saint Andrew in the Grand Kremlin Palace, where the imperial throne once sat, Putin studied documents in his office before walking down the corridors of the Kremlin to salute guards, even stopping to unhurriedly study a picture on the wall.

“We do not refuse dialogue with Western states,” Putin said after being sworn in, adding that he was ready for talks on security and strategic stability but only if there was no “arrogance” from the US and its allies.