Vladimir Putin Re-elected by Landslide 76.65 Pct

Moscow, Mar 19 (Prensa Latina) Russian leader Vladimir Putin overwhelmingly won reelection by landslide with 76.65 percent with 99 percent of the ballots counted according to the latest official reports at 05:21 local time.

The Russian Election Commission said Monday almost 55.5 million of voters supported his candidacy.

The above 76 percent vote collected is Putin's all time high electoral support, far higher than the 52.9 percent he got in 2000, his 71.31 percent in 2004 and 63.6 in 2012, the Russian Central Electoral Commission outlined.

Addressing a rally at his campaign headquarters, Putin thanked his supporters, shared views on key issues and lay out his plans for the future, on which he said: 'We need a leap forward.'

He said his international agenda will be to develop relations with nations on all continents, adding Russia is ready to overcome all difficulties with Europe, while underscoring that China is Moscow's strategic partner and he's planning to expand links with Beijing.

The President stressed 'it is important for Russians to understand that there are huge challenges before us, and we must overcome these challenges, we must complete the nation's tasks. And I count on us all to continue this work together.'

First-time Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin came in second with 11.83 percent, while veteran nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky (Liberal Democratic party), who first ran against Boris Yeltsin in 1991, finished third with 5.6 percent.

The rest of the other five candidates running for president did not reached 2 percent.

They were Civil Initiative party leader Ksenia Sobchak, Sergei Baburin (All-People's Union party), Maxim Suraykin (Communists of Russia party), Boris Titov (Presidential Commissioner for Entrepreneurs' Rights) and Grigory Yavlinsky (Yabloko party).

Results of the presidential election in Russia show the Russian people are happy with the domestic and foreign policies implemented by the current leadership and voted for the continuation of the political course, observer from Italy Claudio D'Amico told Sputnik News.

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Putin & Trump expected to establish dialogue vital for whole world at G20 meeting – Kremlin

The long-awaited meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart, Donald Trump, is expected to lay the groundwork for a working dialogue, which is vital for resolving the world’s conflicts, the Kremlin said.

“This is the first meeting, the first encounter of the two presidents, this is the main thing in this meeting,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday, commenting on the Kremlin’s expectations for the upcoming meeting between Putin and Trump at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany on July 7.

© Reuters / Sputnik

“[We have] expectations of establishing a working dialogue, which is probably vital for all the world in terms of improving efficiency in resolving a critical mass of conflicts and problems, which is growing day by day,” Peskov went on.

The Russian leader is preparing for the meeting with Trump the same way he is preparing for similar events at the G20, Peskov added. Putin will also meet French President Emmanuel Macron, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, among other world leaders during the two-day summit.

The conflicts in Syria and Ukraine and ways of resolving them are possibly among the other issues on the agenda during the first meeting between the two leaders, according to Peskov.

“I think that [the two leaders will discuss] the Syrian [conflict] resolution, the Astana process, and the issues of possible Russian-American cooperation,” Peskov said, adding that the joint fight against terrorism will be discussed if the US is ready for it. The presidents may also discuss the Syrian settlement.

As for the Ukrainian issue, the meeting will provide “a great opportunity to repeat the Russian position on the fact that there is no alternative to the Minsk agreements, the necessity to implement the agreements and taking measures to stop the provocations, which unfortunately occur from the Ukrainian Armed Forces.”

Despite the full format of the bilateral meeting, Peskov said that it will be time-limited, as it will take place in the framework of the G20 summit. The Russian president will not have an opportunity to fully express his understanding of the Ukrainian conflict and its reasons.

On Tuesday, both Moscow and Washington confirmed that Putin and Trump will hold their first full-fledged meeting at the G20 summit on July 7. The Kremlin pointed out that it will not merely be a brief contact on the sidelines, but “a full-fledged ‘sit down’ meeting.” Previously, the leaders spoke only by phone.

The Trump-Putin meeting is grabbing attention in light of souring Russian-American relations, which are currently “at the zero mark,” according to Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov. Moscow and Washington have been at loggerheads, especially after Trump’s order to launch launched 59 Tomahawk missiles at Syria’s Shayrat Airbase near the city of Homs on April 7. The move was justified by Washington, accusing the Syrian government of carrying out a chemical attack on Khan Shaykhun, which killed dozens of people. Damascus has denied those allegations, while Moscow has repeatedly called for an international investigation into the incident to be conducted.

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Putin: Trust between US & Russia degrading under Trump

Trust between Russia and the US has degraded under the Trump administration, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated. During his presidential election campaign, Trump said he would like the US to have better relations with Russia.

In an interview on Wednesday, Putin said that if Donald Trump had intended to bring about a thaw in US relations with Russia, he has failed to see this intention through.

“I would say the level of trust [between Russia and the US] is at a workable level, especially in the military dimension, but it hasn’t improved. On the contrary, it has degraded,” the Russian president told Mir broadcaster.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (R) welcomes US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson before a meeting in Moscow on April 12, 2017. © Alexander Nemenov

Trump’s repeated claims that he could mend relations between Washington and Moscow has fueled accusations that he secretly colluded with Russia to win the US presidential election last year. His administration is currently under a congressional investigation over alleged ties with Russia.

Moscow has distanced itself from domestic US tensions, neither supporting nor criticizing Trump officially. It denied preferring Trump to his Democrat rival, Hillary Clinton, during the election campaign and said it would judge his administration by its actions rather than its words.

Trump’s latest decision to attack Russian ally Syria over an alleged chemical weapons attack drew sharp criticism from the Kremlin. Moscow considers the decision rushed, illegal and playing into the hands of terrorist groups.

Putin and Trump are yet to meet face to face to discuss the tensions between Russia and the US. A meeting of the two leaders has not been scheduled so far, even though Moscow has indicated it is willing.

READ MORE: Putin ready to meet Trump at upcoming Arctic summit in Finland

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Idlib ‘chemical attack’ was false flag to set Assad up, more may come – Putin

Russia has information of a potential incident similar to the alleged chemical attack in Idlib province, possibly targeting a Damascus suburb, President Vladimir Putin said. The goal is to discredit the government of Syrian President Assad, he added.

“We have reports from multiple sources that false flags like this one – and I cannot call it otherwise – are being prepared in other parts of Syria, including the southern suburbs of Damascus. They plan to plant some chemical there and accuse the Syrian government of an attack,” he said at a joint press conference with Italian President Sergio Mattarella in Moscow.

Damascus denied the allegations, noting that the targeted area may have been hosting chemical weapons stockpiles belonging to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) or Al-Nusra Front jihadists.

The incident has not been properly investigated as yet, but the US fired dozens of cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase in a demonstration of force over what it labeled a chemical attack by Damascus.

“President Mattarella and I discussed it, and I told him that this reminds me strongly of the events in 2003, when the US representatives demonstrated at the UN Security Council session the presumed chemical weapons found in Iraq. The military campaign was subsequently launched in Iraq and it ended with the devastation of the country, the growth of the terrorist threat and the appearance of Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIS] on the world stage,” he added.

It was the first time the US had targeted Syrian troops deliberately. The White House says it will repeat military action in response to any possible new chemical weapon attacks.

“The sight of people being gassed and blown away by barrel bombs ensures that if we see this kind of action again, we hold open the possibility of future action,” spokesman Sean Spicer said Monday.

Putin reiterated the call to properly investigate what happened in Khan Sheikhoun, saying that the alleged use of chemical weapons demands one.

“We are planning to address the corresponding UN structure in The Hague and call on the international community to thoroughly investigate all those reports and take appropriate action based on the results of such a probe,” he said.

A separate report of a potential false flag operation in Syria came from the Russian General Staff, which said militants were transporting toxic agents into several parts of Syria, including Eastern Ghouta, the site of the 2013 chemical weapons incident.

“These actions are aimed at creating a new pretext for accusing the government of Syria of more chemical weapons attacks and provoking more strikes by the US,” said Colonel General Sergey Rudskoy, the head of Operations.

cal weapons found in Iraq. The military campaign was subsequently launched in Iraq and it ended with the devastation of the country, the growth of the terrorist threat and the appearance of Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIS] on the world stage,” he added.


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Putin ready to meet Trump at upcoming Arctic summit in Finland

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he would be ready to meet with US President Donald Trump at the upcoming summit of Arctic countries in Finland, if the talks are properly prepared.

“I believe Finland suits this purpose well, and Helsinki is a very convenient platform to organize an event like this,” Putin said, when asked if he thought a meeting between him and Trump was possible in Finland.

Putin was speaking at the International Arctic Forum in Russia’s northwestern city of Arkhangelsk.

However, he added that any meeting between him and Trump should be well prepared “by both sides.”

“If this happens, we – and I personally – would be glad to take part in such an event. If not, the meeting [with Trump] could take place in the framework of the G20 summit [set to take place in July],” Putin concluded.

U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin © Reuters / Sputnik

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said earlier that his country would “certainly be very happy to have the opportunity to hold such a summit.”

The summit is set to take place at Finlandia Hall in Helsinki on September 18-20, 2017, according to the event’s official website.

Russia considers the US a great power, and would like to get its relationship with Washington back on track, and claims alleging anything else are lies and fiction, Putin said.

The Russian president added that, while relations between Moscow and Washington are currently “at zero level,” he counts on the situation improving someday – and the sooner the better.

The anti-Russian card is being played by various political forces in the US to reinforce the positions of certain politicians, Putin added, slamming as nonsense claims that the Russian ambassador to the US had held “spy” meetings with officials connected to Trump.

Putin also slammed the way the Russian ambassador is being treated in the US. The diplomat’s contacts have been limited and any meetings he has are regarded as a spy activities, according to the Russian president.

Putin warned that the attempt of some US political forces to bring US-Russian relations to the point of “Caribbean crisis” [October missile crisis] is a huge mistake.

Putin also confirmed that he will personally meet with Rex Tillerson to discuss the fight against terrorism during the US secretary of state’s upcoming visit to Moscow.

The US State Department said Tillerson is planning to visit Russia in April following a G-7 meeting in Italy. An exact date hasn’t been announced.

READ MORE: US delegation ushers out media as Tillerson starts talking to Lavrov at G20

The first high-profile Russia-US meeting was held in mid-February, when Tillerson met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Bonn, although journalists were asked to leave when the US’ top diplomat began speaking.

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Russia reserves right to meet any French politician it wants to – Putin to Le Pen

President Putin has told French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen in Moscow that Russia has no intentions to influence the French elections, but reserves the right to meet any French politicians it wishes.

“We attach a lot of importance to our relations with France, trying to maintain smooth relations with both the acting power and the opposition representatives,” Putin said.

"We don't want to influence in any way the events going on [in France], but reserve our right to communicate with all representatives of the country's political powers, as our partners do in Europe and in the US."

Putin and National Front candidate Le Pen did not discuss financing the latter’s campaign, the Russian President's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists at a press conference.

FILE PHOTO © Evgeny Epanchintsev

Putin underlined the necessity to unite against terrorism, citing common threats for both Russia and France.

Today, a grave event happened in Chechnya, in [Russia’s] North Caucasus – a unit of our National Guard was attacked by terrorists this morning. We all live in such difficult conditions. We should finally realize that this danger is real, and unite our efforts in the fight against terrorism.”

Six Russian military men died and three others were injured in the militant attack on a National Guard base in the Chechen Republic. Six terrorists who attacked the base, 70km northwest of the Chechen capital, Grozny, were killed.

Before her meeting with Putin, Le Pen spoke to Russia's parliamentary speaker, Vyacheslav Volodin, and said she supported close cooperation between the two countries.

I am in favor of developing relations with Russia in the context of the long history that links our two countries. I've pleaded at every level for cooperation between our countries in the fight against terrorism,” she said as cited by AFP.

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Putin says sending Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier group to Syria’s shores was his own idea

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that the idea to send a Russian aircraft carrier group to Syria was his own, adding that Russia does not intend to interfere in Syria’s internal affairs, but wants to deal with the terrorists.

Russia’s aircraft carrier group from the Northern Fleet inflicted significant damage to extremist groups in Syria, Putin said at a meeting with the officers who distinguished themselves during the operation in the Mediterranean near Syria’s shores.

You have fulfilled all the tasks that were given to you and inflicted significant damage to the international terrorist groups by hitting their bases, ammunition storages, equipment, and infrastructure,” he said.

The Russian military has greatly contributed to international anti-terrorist efforts and “helped to create conditions for the peace talks between the Syrian government and the armed opposition,” Putin said.

The Russian president added that Russia’s goal in Syria is to stabilize the legitimate government and to “put an end to the terrorist blight.”

Our goal is to stabilize the legitimate government and strike a decisive blow to the international terrorism,” Putin said, adding that “the sooner the country [Syria] will proceed with political settlement the more chances the international community will have in putting an end to the terrorist blight on the Syrian territory.”

He went on to say that more than 4,000 militants from Russia and 5,000 from the former USSR are fighting with extremists in Syria, citing Russian intelligence data.

The president said that this poses a serious threat to Russia’s security and thanked the officers for doing their duty to protect the country.

The officers who took part in the operation told Putin that the aircraft carrier group was closely followed by NATO vessels, both on its way to Syria and on its way back to their Russian port, noting that “at least eight NATO warships” were around constantly whose actions were “far from friendly.”

The Russian naval group headed by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier made headlines in 2016 when it was deployed to fight jihadists in the Middle East.

It departed from the town of Severomorsk, which is the main base of Russia’s Northern fleet, in October of last year. A month later, it carried out its first combat mission in the Mediterranean.

Its flagship aircraft carrier – manned by nearly 2,500 crew members and carrying dozens of fighter jets and helicopters – is also a missile cruiser equipped to protect itself from incoming air attacks.

The group also included the Peter the Great battle cruiser and other military ships equipped with precision weapons, as well as Kamov helicopters capable of carring out anti-submarine warfare, and search and rescue missions.

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Vladimir Putin And Donald Trump To Speak By Phone On Saturday: Kremlin


Moscow, Russia: US President Donald Trump and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will on Saturday hold their first phone conversation since the American leader's inauguration, the Kremlin said.  

"I can confirm that a telephone conversation is planned. It will be Saturday evening Moscow time," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Friday.

Peskov said Putin would congratulate Trump on officially becoming president and the two would likely discuss the "state of bilateral ties".

But Putin's spokesman refused to comment on rumours that Trump might already be gearing up to roll back sanctions against Moscow that have helped drive ties to their lowest point since the end of the Cold War.  

"This is the first contact by phone since President Trump assumed office so it is hardly likely there will be substantive contact on all issues. Let's be patient," he said.

The two leaders already spoke by phone in November following Trump's election, and agreed to "normalise" US-Russia relations, which have suffered notably since the crisis in Ukraine.

Throughout the election campaign, Trump praised Putin and was accused by his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton of being Putin's "puppet."

Less than one month before leaving the White House, former president Barack Obama took action against Moscow over what he said was Russian meddling in the US presidential election.

The measures by Obama, who accused Moscow of "efforts to harm US interests," included the expulsion of 35 alleged intelligence agents and financial sanctions on Russia's top intelligence agencies.

Trump has pledged to mend ties with Putin's government, and is angered by suggestions that his victory was aided by illegal Russian interference.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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