Russian President Vladimir Putin has formally declared his candidacy to become Russia’s leader for a fifth term.

Putin told Lieutenant Colonel Artyom Zhoga, a Russian military officer, about his decision to participate in the upcoming vote following an awards ceremony for army personnel at the Kremlin, state-run news agencies reported.

“We are very glad that the president has heard our request for nomination, the whole of Russia supports him,” Zhoga told the journalist following the talk with Putin, adding that “everyone at the front was worried and wondered if Putin would run.”

Once in the Kremlin, he said that he had decided “to ask the president about it.”

Soon following Zhoga's comments, the Kremlin published a video recording of Putin's conversation with him on Telegram. The dictator, in response to the plea to run for the presidency, says: “Thank you very much, I won't hide it, I had different thoughts at different times. But now, you're right, now is the time to make a decision. I will run for the post of President of the Russian Federation.”

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The presidential election is scheduled for March 17, as unanimously approved by the upper house of parliament on Thursday, Dec. 8, during a live broadcast on Russian television.

The decision “effectively kicks off the presidential campaign,” said the head of the chamber, Valentina Matvienko.

Matvienko emphasized the supposed unity of the Russian people under Putin's leadership, asserting, “Russians were ‘united like never before’around Putin's government,” and “the task of the state is to show it is worthy of this trust and to prevent any provocations.”

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“The number one task today is to ensure maximum support for our leader Vladimir Putin,” said Andrey Turchak, secretary of the ruling United Russia party's governing council.

This potential fifth term follows a constitutional reform in 2020, which would allowPutin to remain president until 2036.

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After his first two presidential terms, Putin briefly became prime minister between 2008 and 2012 while his protege Dmitry Medvedev became president.

The switch was to get around the constitutional limit that prevented more than two consecutive presidential terms.

Despite being labeled a pariah by Western leaders and facing unprecedented sanctions, Putin's confidence has grown with waning Western support for Ukraine and the stalling of Ukraine's counter-offensive.

Russia's economy, resilient against sanctions, is experiencing growth as energy exports shift towards Asia.

During his long rule, Putin has silenced dissent and turned Russia towards authoritarianism and nationalism.

Opposition figures have faced imprisonment, exile, or have died under suspicious circumstances with increased legislation against criticism being enacted amid the war in Ukraine.

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