Putin Declares to the West: Russia Seeks Dialogue on Equal Footing

Putin's inauguration marks a pivotal moment in global diplomacy

by Zain ul Abedin
Putin Declares to the West: Russia Seeks Dialogue on Equal Footing
© Sergey Guneev/Getty Images

Vladimir Putin, honored like a tsar during his inauguration for another six-year term, delivered a firm message to the West: Russia is prepared for dialogue but insists on equal footing, even as it braces for victory in Ukraine.

Rising to power shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Putin, now 71, could surpass Josef Stalin as Russia’s longest-serving leader since Catherine the Great if he completes his term. His inauguration, held in the grandiose Hall of Saint Andrew at the Kremlin, was portrayed by critics as a facade of democracy hiding a corrupt autocracy.

Before the ceremony, Putin was seen in his Kremlin office reviewing documents and walking through historic corridors, symbolizing his deep connection to Russian governance. He emphasized willingness for dialogue with the West, conditioned on respect and non-arrogance from the United States and its allies.

Putin vowed that Russians are bound by their "thousand-year history" to achieve victory. The event concluded with the anthem "Hail" from Mikhail Glinka's opera "A Life for the Tsar," echoing imperial grandeur. Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the Communist Party, noted Putin’s authority was at its peak, surpassing even U.S.

presidential power.

Dialogue Amid Tensions

Relations between Russia and the West have been at their lowest since the Cuban Missile Crisis, primarily due to Putin's 2022 invasion of Ukraine, which the West condemns while Putin views as a defense against Western encroachment.

Sergei Naryshkin of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service portrayed Putin's speech as an invitation to dialogue juxtaposed with a readiness to secure Russia's interests unilaterally. This outreach comes amid Putin’s orders for military drills involving tactical nuclear weapons, responding to perceived threats from Western nations.

Meanwhile, a Putin-proposed ceasefire in Ukraine was rejected by the U.S., maintaining diplomatic tensions. Domestically, the war has bolstered Putin's grip on power and his popularity, with him reportedly securing 88% of the vote in recent elections, though contested by the West.

Western nations, including the U.S., U.K., and most EU countries, boycotted the inauguration, criticizing the electoral process while still recognizing Putin as Russia’s leader. Putin’s speech highlighted the risks of stagnation and the need for Russia to evolve with the global landscape, emphasizing stability and continuity under his leadership. With no clear successor, Putin’s legacy of resilience and governance continues to shape Russia’s future.