Russian pensioner Natan was standing outside a polling station in bright winter sunshine in Moscow after casting a ballot for President Vladimir Putin, running virtually unopposed for a fifth term in the Kremlin.

While nobody doubts the result, Russians have been called to vote in a show of support for their longtime leader, more than two years after he launched his assault on Ukraine.

Natan, a firm Putin supporter like many older Russians, hoped that fighting would end and that "there is stability in the country".

Putin came to power on the last day of 1999 and another term in the Kremlin would end in 2030.

"We see our president at work, we support him in his actions," said Natan, a 72-year-old former construction worker.

"Stability" was the key word among those who came to vote as soon as polls opened in Moscow school n.1,500.

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The vote is taking place over three days, expected to easily hand Putin another win.

If he completes another term until 2030, he would have stayed in power longer than any Russian leader since Catherine the Great in the 18th century.

Valentin, another pensioner, voted in the same school.

"He's the best president we've had since the (Second World) war. It's our president. Putin," the 77-year-old former sailor said.

Valentin blamed the West for the current war in Ukraine, saying that Europe wants to "wage war all the time" and accusing it of "organising provocations" against Russia.

Russia has lived under massive Western sanctions for two years.

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The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has yet to comment on this information.

The Kremlin says society is fully behind the Ukraine offensive, orchestrating a huge crackdown on dissent.

"The fifth column wants to make our lives difficult," Valentin said, using a term with Soviet-era connotations that refers to traitors.

Putin and Russian officials have regularly branded Russians against the Ukraine campaign as traitors.

In March 2022, Putin said Russians would identify traitors and "spit them out like a fly".

- Hoping for 'victory' -

No anti-Kremlin candidates have been allowed on the ballot, and two notable pro-peace politicians were barred from running.

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Putin's main opponent, Alexei Navalny, died in an Arctic prison colony last month.

With all of Putin's major opponents dead, in prison or in exile, the outcome of the vote is not in any doubt.

"There's no alternative to him at the moment," said 75-year-old pensioner Valentina, who said she "loved" her president.

"He suits us, especially in the current situation," she added.

Putin has called on Russians to vote in what he described as a "difficult" time.

His offensive has triggered a flurry of sanctions from Western countries, who shut out Russia from their markets.

In reaction, Moscow has accelerated its pivot towards Asian countries, particularly China.

"We will have more and better friends," Valentina said.

Pensioners made up most of the crowd that gathered in front of the school's white and beige walls -- though some younger residents also made the journey.

Many had one wish on their minds: for Russia to win in Ukraine after two years of fighting.

"It's important (to vote) for the lives of my children and grandchildren and for the future of Russia," said 70-year-old Lyudmila.

And as the offensive in Ukraine drags on, what she hoped for was "above all, victory".

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