Putin Begins 5th Term, Tightens Grip on Russian Leadership

Russia faces significant internal and economic policy adjustments

by Zain ul Abedin
Putin Begins 5th Term, Tightens Grip on Russian Leadership
© Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Vladimir Putin officially commenced his fifth term as the President of Russia at a grand inauguration ceremony at the Kremlin. This milestone marks his continued dominance over Russian politics, further solidifying his control after nearly 25 years in power, the longest tenure since Josef Stalin.

With his current term set to extend until 2030, Putin remains eligible for another term, potentially extending his leadership further. Under Putin's rule, Russia has experienced a dramatic transformation from a nation recovering from economic turmoil to a state now viewed by many in the international community as a threat to global security.

This shift was starkly highlighted following the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, which not only reignited tensions in Europe but also resulted in significant sanctions from Western nations. In response, Russia has sought alliances with countries like China, Iran, and North Korea.

Now at 71, Putin faces the task of navigating Russia through another six years of his leadership. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine sees Russian forces employing severe military strategies while Ukraine retaliates with cross-border drone and missile attacks.

In a defiant tone, Putin, in a recent speech, committed to achieving Russia's objectives in Ukraine and protecting national sovereignty at all costs.

Economic Shifts and Challenges

Domestically, Putin's popularity has historically been linked to the prosperity of ordinary Russians, a promise he highlighted upon his 2018 election victory, with ambitions to propel Russia into the top five global economies.

However, the economic landscape in Russia has drastically changed, with the nation's resources now heavily skewed towards military expenditures amidst the Ukrainian conflict. Analysts speculate that with the security of a new term, the Russian government might implement unpopular fiscal measures such as tax increases and conscription expansions to support the war effort.

Additionally, the beginning of Putin's term usually signals governmental reshuffles, with significant attention on the Defense Ministry. Last year, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was scrutinized for his handling of the war.

Internal strife within the military echelons, highlighted by the brief rebellion led by mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, who later died under mysterious circumstances, compounded the situation. With Putin's new term, there is little indication that the stringent crackdown on dissent will wane.

The government continues to impose severe penalties for those criticizing military actions and suppresses various freedoms under the guise of protecting "traditional family values." The recent death of Alexei Navalny, Putin's most prominent critic, in a penal colony underscores the peril faced by opposition figures in Russia today.

As Putin's new term unfolds, the international community remains watchful of how his continued rule will shape domestic and global landscapes.