Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday vowed to make Russia "sovereign and self-sufficient" in the face of the West, in his first campaign speech before a March vote to extend his long rule until at least 2030. 

Putin will stand for a fifth Kremlin term in an election with no real opposition that will come just over two years since he launched the seismic Ukraine offensive.

The 71-year-old came to power in 2000, with a whole generation in Russia unable to remember life without him. 

The vote will likely prolong his rule until at least 2030 and give him the possibility to stay in the Kremlin until 2036. 

"We must remember and never forget and tell our children: Russia will be either a sovereign, self-sufficient state, or it will not be there at all," Putin said during a congress of the ruling United Russia party. 

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Putin has said that he will make "sovereignty" -- a loosely defined term -- one of the key aims of his fifth term in the Kremlin. 

"We will only make decisions ourselves without foreign advice from abroad," Putin told United Russia members, to applause. 

"Russia cannot -- like some countries -- give away its sovereignty for some sausage and become someone's satellite," he said, using a common Russian expression.

The United Russia party backed Putin's candidacy unanimously, with party leaders and public figures making adoring speeches lending him support. 

The party is headed by Dmitry Medvedev, who switched roles with Putin in 2008 to serve as president, before Putin returned to the Kremlin. 

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The blockade has been a topic of discussion for some time and will likely further restrict the information flow ahead of the upcoming presidential election on March 17.

Medvedev has become one of the most hawkish figures in Russia during the Ukraine campaign. 

The 2024 election will come as Moscow's Ukraine campaign drags on for another winter, costing a high number of deaths on both sides, with criticism of the military operation banned in Russia. 

- 'Sow internal troubles' -

Russia has said it is withstanding Western economic pressure. 

Putin accused Western countries of wanting to "sow internal troubles" in Russia. 

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"But such tactics did not work," he said. 

The longtime Kremlin leader said "we still have a lot to do for the interests of Russia" and that the country faced "historic tasks."

United Russia leaders and pro-Kremlin figures made speeches in support of Putin. 

"There is not a single doubt that Putin should be leader in the hardest circumstances for our country," Medvedev said, calling Western countries "dangerous and cynical enemies". 

A special forces commander of Ramzan Kadyrov's brutal regime in Chechnya -- Apti Alaudinov -- said: "God gave us a leader." 

"We Russians, do not see ourselves without him," he said. 

The vote will take place amid a huge crackdown on dissent in Russia. 

Putin's main political opponent, Alexei Navalny, is serving a 19-year prison sentence. 

His allies have sounded the alarm last week, saying they have not had no contact with him for ten days, believing he was moved to another prison. 

His team says this was done to coincide with Putin's campaign. 

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Comments (2)

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John
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First off all...great comment Ned....Pretty much sums it up.

I ponder whether in a future 'Self sufficient' and necessarily putinless Russia, whether the Russian people will no longer feel the need to steal resources from their neighbours? Maybe in russia's case another century of societal evolution will be needed to reach that realization. Seems the current russian majority are quite complacent with an existence based on crime. They also historically seem inclined towards 'electing' (if thats even actually happening) some truly psychopathic / sociopathic leaders; not that some western nations don't also regress towards selecting an occasional sociopathic leader.

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Ned Flanders
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When Prigozhin was heading to Moscow Putin panicked and fled the capitol. His private jet was seen on radar heading north.

He is a weak coward who uses poison (the weapon of a woman) to murder his enemies. He dare not do this himself, he has others take the risks for him.

Why do Russians think this small man is a strong leader?

He has broken their economy, killed their sons, made them enemies of the free world and doomed Russia to poverty, also adding more NATO to his border for good measure. He is a failure in every way.

Now Russian frozen money will be used to rebuild Ukraine and when he loses the war he is humiliated completely.

Soon Ukraine will have new jets and smart bombs and they might even fly into Russia to say hello.

Slava Ukraini.

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