Russia’s presidential election enters final day amid Kyiv sabotage claims

Photo: Reuters

Russia commenced the last day of its presidential election on Sunday, with accusations from Moscow of Ukraine attempting to disrupt the voting through aerial assaults. The election is anticipated to extend President Vladimir Putin’s tenure by another six years.

Officials report that over half of the Russian electorate participated in the initial two days of the three-day election. The concluding day will gauge the vigor of the opposition, which has urged its supporters to simultaneously cast their votes at noon in a campaign named “Noon Against Putin.”

The election period has been punctuated by intermittent protests, though the ongoing conflict with Ukraine has overshadowed the electoral process. On Friday, Putin charged Kyiv with aiming to thwart the election via escalated drone and missile strikes within Russia and in Ukrainian territories under Moscow’s control, promising retribution against Ukraine. Local Russian authorities reported continued assaults on Russian border regions by Kyiv’s forces early Sunday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in his Saturday night video address, refrained from commenting on the attacks. Instead, he expressed gratitude towards the Ukrainian military and intelligence for enhancing the country’s long-range capabilities.

Kyiv deems the election in parts of its territory under Russian control as illegitimate and null. Military analysts interpret Kyiv’s persistent targeting of energy and vital infrastructure as an effort to disrupt the Russian public’s sense of security and to weaken Moscow’s military campaign.

Eligible voters, totaling more than 114 million, include residents in the so-called “new territories” – four Ukrainian regions partially occupied by Russian forces but claimed by Moscow. According to the Russian Central Election Committee, over 63 million voters had cast their ballots by Saturday evening.