What the world is saying about Putin's re-election

AFP , Monday 19 Mar 2018

Putin Results
A man walks past a screen showing preliminary results of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the presidential election, at the headquarters of Russia's Central Election Commission in Moscow, Russia March 19, 2018. REUTERS

China was the first world power to react Monday to Russian strongman Vladimir Putin's re-election vowing to push ties to a "higher level", but Germany questioned the fairness of the vote and warned Moscow would remain "difficult".

Here's a roundup of global reaction:

Just a day after Xi Jinping was unanimously re-appointed President, the Chinese leader said Beijing was willing to work with Moscow.

"Currently, the China-Russia comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership is at the best level in history, which sets an example for building a new type of international relations," Xi said in a message to Putin, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

"China is willing to work with Russia to keep promoting China-Russia relations to a higher level."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was to congratulate Putin, but the message will also raise "challenges" in relations, her spokesman said.

Berlin and Moscow have "differences in opinion" on issues ranging from Russian politics to the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

"Nevertheless, the continuous contact with Russia's leadership is very important to us."

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was more critical, saying: "We certainly cannot talk in all respects about a fair political contest as we know it."

It was "unacceptable" that the election also took place in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine four years ago in breach of international law, Maas said.

"In this respect, we assume that Russia will remain a difficult partner."

Japan's Foreign Ministry said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had congratulated Putin and they agreed to work together for North Korea's denuclearisation.

"The two leaders confirmed their close cooperation in realising North Korea's denuclearisation" before an expected summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the ministry said.

Abe and Putin also discussed joint economic activities on disputed islands and "humanitarian measures" for former Japanese islanders, the ministry said.

Referring to the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain, Abe told Putin the use of chemical weapons was not acceptable.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani congratulated Putin on his "decisive victory" and pledged to boost ties.

"I am sure that during your new term, relations between our two countries will develop further," he said.

Iran and Russia have strengthened ties in recent years, both giving major military and financial backing to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi sent his "warmest congratulations," according to a statement.

"(Sisi) lauds the strategic relations that the two countries share and their keenness to further enhance them so as to realise the interests of both peoples."

France's far-right National Front, which has enjoyed close ties with the Kremlin, urged the European Union to reconsider its poor relations with Russia.

Putin's re-election should above all "bring the European Union to reconsider and put an end to its absurd and counter-productive blackmail, threats and sanctions," against Moscow, a party statement said

The presidents of leftist regimes in Venezuela and Bolivia effusively congratulated Putin both using the same word, "overwhelming" to describe the victory.

Russia and Venezuela are "brother countries" as both must "face the frequent manoeuvres of imperialism" to "impose doctrines of world supremacy," said a statement from President Nicolas Maduro.

Bolivian President Evo Morales said on Twitter that Putin's win "guarantees geopolitical equilibrium and world peace before the onslaught of imperialism".

Saudi Arabia's new strongman, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his father King Salman sent congratulations and wished Putin "constant good health and happiness and his people steady progress and prosperity".

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