Russia Will Remain 'Difficult Partner' After Putin Re-Election - Germany

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Vladimir Putin will lead Russian Federation for another six years, after securing an expected victory in Sunday's presidential election.

Speaking during a visit to the Battle of Britain Bunker museum in Uxbridge alongside the Polish foreign minister, Jacek Czaputowicz, Mr Johnson said: "Our quarrel is with Putin's Kremlin, and with his decision - and we think it overwhelmingly likely that it was his decision - to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the United Kingdom, on the streets of Europe, for the first time since the Second World War". Putin's 76 percent accounts for more than 50 million votes.

"Together, we'll take on a great task in the name of Russian Federation", a triumphant Putin told a crowd of flag-waving supporters at a rally near Moscow's Red Square Sunday evening.

He said the nation needs unity to move forward and urged the crowd to "think about the future of our great motherland".

The Kremlin's longest-serving leader since Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin had nearly 77 percent of the vote with about 99 percent of the ballots counted, putting him on track for a new six-year term. The result, many analysts say, is that as infighting over the country's domestic course continues at the top, Putin will have an interest in intensifying the conflict with the West.

Russia Will Remain 'Difficult Partner' After Putin Re-Election - Germany

The Foreign Secretary stated that it was "overwhelmingly likely" that the Russian President personally directed the assassination attempt on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury just over 10 days ago. They remain hospitalized in serious condition.

None of the seven candidates who ran against him posed a threat, and opposition leader Alexei Navalny was barred from running.

Mr Navalny was barred from the campaign because of a criminal conviction widely seen as politically motivated. The Russians would cast ballots today (18 March) in Russia across the 11 time zones, known to be the biggest country in the world.

The election came amid escalating tensions with the West, with reports that Moscow was behind the nerve-agent poisoning this month of a former Russian double agent in Britain and that its internet trolls had waged an extensive campaign to undermine the 2016 USA presidential election.

The Kremlin needs high voter numbers to give greater legitimacy to a new mandate for Putin as Russian Federation faces increasing isolation over a spy poisoning in Britain and a fresh round of USA sanctions.

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Britain says it is Novichok, a class of powerful nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union toward the end of the Cold War. The Swedish and Czech foreign ministers and the Slovak Foreign Ministry all separately rejected the Russian claim.

Western sanctions on Russia imposed over Crimea and Moscow's backing of a pro-Russian separatist uprising in eastern Ukraine remain in place and have damaged the Russian economy, which only rebounded previous year after a prolonged downturn.

Yuval Weber, a fellow at the Daniel Morgan Graduate School and Woodrow Wilson Center, discusses the impact of Russia's 2018 presidential election on the country's foreign, economic and social policies.

Her late father Anatoly Sobchak was a liberal politician who served as mayor of the city of Saint Petersburg and was one of Putin's political mentors.

Graffiti sprayed on the pavement near the entrance to the Russian embassy and ambassador's residence in London, Britain, March 15, 2018.

The president has traveled across Russian Federation, pledging to raise wages, pour more funds into crumbling health care and education and modernize dilapidated infrastructure.

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At the moment, it's making sure that, you know, if they can't get 70 percent turnout, which was their original desire, they can at least get, you know, more than 62 or 63 percent, which is what Putin got in 2012.

His lawyer Ivan Zhdanov said the actual national turnout at 5 p.m., when polls closed in Moscow, was 55%, according to data collected by monitors.

Authorities also appealed to patriotic feelings by holding the vote on the anniversary of Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Polls show that most Russians view the takeover of the Black Sea peninsula as a major achievement despite subsequent Western sanctions. In Moscow, authorities spent $870,000 on balloons and decorations at polling stations.

In some areas, free food and discounts in local shops were on offer near polling stations.

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