Putin vows to secure Russia’s future in defiant inauguration speech

Taking the oath of office with his hand on an ornate constitutional text, Putin declared “The interests and security of the people of Russia will be my highest priority.”

In a defiant inauguration address, Vladimir Putin vowed to ensure Russia’s sovereignty and security for “decades to come” as he was officially sworn in for an unprecedented 5th term as president.

Taking the oath of office with his hand on an ornate constitutional text, Putin declared “The interests and security of the people of Russia will be my highest priority.” He struck a combative tone, stating, “We will determine the fate of Russia by ourselves and only ourselves, for the sake of today’s and future generations.”

The comments, delivered to rapturous applause from the elite audience assembled at the Grand Kremlin Palace, seemed aimed at projecting resolve in the face of Russia’s deepening confrontation with the West over Ukraine. With no Western leaders in attendance, the ceremony highlighted Moscow’s isolation.

Putin called for Russia’s “state system” to remain “flexible” enough to allow for progress even as he prepares to extend his over two-decade reign potentially to 2036. “It is necessary to ensure reliable continuity of the country’s development for decades to come,” the 70-year-old leader stated.

While the speech contained Putin’s trademark anti-Western rhetoric, it also suggested openness to some form of constitutional reforms that could allow him to maintain power beyond the current presidential term limits.

Outside the Kremlin walls, thousands of protesters denounced the inauguration as an affront to democracy, clashing at times with riot police. But within the palace halls, it was a different scene – one of choreographed majesty and outward unity as Putin’s inner circle celebrated his new coronation.

Notably absent were any representatives from the United States, Britain and most of Europe. UK Ambassador Deborah Bronnert did not attend in protest, underscoring the diplomatic deep freeze between Russia and the West amid the raging conflict in Ukraine.