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Putin begins 5th term as Russia leader

Moscow open to dialogue with the West but only on equal terms, president says

By REN QI | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-08 07:50

Russian President Vladimir Putin walks into the Grand Kremlin Palace before his inauguration ceremony in Moscow on Tuesday. SERGEY BOBYLEV/REUTERS

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who took the oath for a fifth six-year term on Tuesday, said Russia does not rule out dialogue with the West but it needs to be on equal terms.

In a short speech at the gilded Grand Kremlin Palace, Putin said Russia is open to developing relations with other countries, and is potentially open to holding nuclear talks with the West.

At the inauguration ceremony, Constitutional Court Chairman Valery Zorkin handed Putin, 71, the symbols of presidential power, including the presidential insignia — the golden cross of St. George — depicting the Russian coat of arms and a gold chain with the words "Virtue, Honesty and Glory".

The Russian leader was greeted with applause when he entered the hall with more than 2,500 people who had been invited to the ceremony. They included senior members of the Russian government and celebrities, including US actor Steven Seagal.

"We are a united and great people and together we will overcome all obstacles, realize all our plans, together we will win," Putin said after being sworn in.

"I am confident that Russia will adequately go through the current difficult, milestone period with dignity, and become even stronger and will definitely implement long-term plans and large-scale projects aimed at achieving development goals."

He said the West would have to make its own choice about how to engage with his country, adding that talks on strategic nuclear stability with the West were also possible, but only on equal terms.

"We are not giving up dialogue with Western states," he said. "The choice is up to them: whether they intend to continue trying to restrain Russia's development, continue the policy of aggression, incessant pressure on our country for years, or seek a path to cooperation and peace."

Putin said a conversation, including on security and strategic stability issues, is possible. "But not from a position of strength, without any arrogance, arrogance and one's own exclusivity, but only on equal terms, respecting each other's interests."

He also thanked the Russian citizens for their trust and support, and said the new administration would prioritize improving people's lives and preserving traditions.

After the inauguration, the government was dissolved in accordance with the constitution. The formation of the new government will start with the president proposing the name of the next prime minister for approval by the State Duma, the lower house of parliament.

In his address, Putin did not directly mention the special military operation in Ukraine. Some Western countries boycotted the inauguration ceremony in light of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The United States and the United Kingdom were among those that refused to send their diplomats to the event.

Russia's relations with the US and its allies are at their lowest point since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, when the world came to the brink of a nuclear war.

The West has provided Ukraine with artillery, tanks and long-range missiles, but NATO troops have not joined the conflict directly, something that both Putin and US President Joe Biden have warned could lead to World War III.

Noting the rise in nuclear tensions, Russia said on Monday it would practice the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons as part of its military exercise, following what it said were threats from the UK and the US.

"We hope that this event will cool down the 'hotheads' in Western capitals," Russia's Foreign Ministry said.

Agencies contributed to this story.

REN QI in Moscow

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