The 2024 Russian Elections – What Are the Risks of Another Putin Presidency?

Following the Russian elections last weekend, Vladimir won his third  consecutive, and fifth overall presidential term, securing 88% of the vote on Sunday. Whilst many would assume that another term of Putin’s presidency is sure to be more of the same, our recent conversations with Ben Dubow and Ambassador John Herbst  indicated that, amidst a vast array of elections coming up this year, the international risks of another Putin presidency could be more significant than ever before. It is important to note that, contrary to popular opinion, the Russian elections remain a democratically viable process, unlike the elections of authoritarian states such as North Korea; so before assessing Putin’s next presidency, we will examine this fact. A key risk of this terms presidency, as we heard from Ambassador Herbst, is Russia’s current aggression in Ukraine; we will therefore close  by examining what could transpire over Putin’s next presidential term.

Putin has become Russia’s longest servine leader (Source; News18)

A Brief History of Putin’s Leadership

On December 31, 1999, Boris Yeltsin designated Putin, a former KGB lieutenant colonel, as acting president. He then served two four-year terms from 2000 to 2008, before becoming Prime Minister from 2008 to 2012. He returned to the President in 2012, after presidential terms were extended to six years, and again in 2018. In 2020, revisions to the constitution were passed that permitted Putin to serve another two six-year terms beginning in 2024. This means he might remain in power until 2036.

2024 Opposition

Putin’s presidential run this year was not all smooth sailing. This weekend, thousands of Russians joined the Navalny inspired ‘noon against Putin’ election protests. On March 17th, thousands of Russians, both in and out of the country who did not support Putin flocked to the polls to vote against him and ruin the ballot. Despite Putin’s victory in the elections, the protest remained a success. A key success  of the Noon Against Putin campaign was its ability to unite various elements of the Russian opposition. Some supported voting for any randomly selected candidate other than Putin. Others attempted to persuade Russians to sabotage ballots. Others ran for Vladislav Davankov, a phoney liberal candidate backed by the Kremlin. Regardless of their differences, all of these groupings urged their supporters to go to the polls at noon on March 17. Furthermore, in some places outside of Russia, supporters of the voting boycott among Russian immigrants coordinated their protests with the Noon Against Putin movement.The campaign was significant because it demonstrated the mobilising capability of the Russian opposition. It revealed that, despite government delay, the threat of repression, and activists being sent into exile, the Russian opposition can still mobilise core followers in major cities.

Thousands joined the Noon Against Putin Protest (Source: Al Jazeera)

Aside from expressing disagreement, the Noon Against Putin campaign aimed to bolster the morale of the Russian resistance and strengthen it as a whole. Trust levels in Russian society are often low, limiting collaborative action. Due to the sheer numbers of those who took part in the protest, I would contend that it represented a shift in the mentality of  Russian society. 

Do the Elections Really Matter?

In our conversation with Ben Dubow, he explained that unlike elections in states like the DPRK, which are purely performative, the results of the Russian elections can significantly influence  both domestic and international policies coming out of the Kremlin. Ben tells us that Putin has previously used elections as a ‘thermostat on public opinion’, and has used election results in the past to amend their policies. ‘Who comes in second is going to matter significantly’ says Ben. This year, it was Vladislav Davankov of the New People Party. The New People party bases its campaign on the hope of  “renewal on all fronts” and represents those in power “whose voices have simply not been taken into account before”. On the party’s websitethey claim they aim to “liberate the creative forces and rebuild the country for a comfortable life”. Interestingly Davankov takes an anti-war sentiment on matters, even those pertaining to Russia’s ongoing aggression in Ukraine; his second place result was therefore unexpected, but somewhat telling of the views of at least 3.86% of those who voted. This being said, however, Putin remains in charge, leading us nicely on to a key risk present in this term of his presidency, Ukraine.

Key International Risks from Ukraine

If the last 2 years have taught us anything about Putin, it is that he is unendingly persistent in his aim of achieving victory in Ukraine. His election victory has brought with it not just another six years to achieve this, but also a need to prove himself to the people of Russia as the still powerful president he once was. We spoke to Ambassador John Herbst about this; he made it incredibly clear that  a Russian victory in Ukraine could spell unending chaos for the rest of the world, not only from Russia, but also China and Iran. The ambassador made it clear that failure from the West to defend Ukraine will spur China on to take action in Taiwan, causing an unending spiral of chaos. Andrii Yusov, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s military intelligence has stated that Putin can mobilise more troops far more openly; if this were to take place, the risks to Ukraine would increase drastically. As the ambassador said, the best thing the US, and therefore other Western states can do for its own security, is ensure a victory in Ukraine. 


The next six years could be the most globally tumultuous we have seen with a Putin presidency. It will be interesting to see ho[w the results of his opposition impact his policies, particularly domestically. The international risks remain huge and potentially larger than they have ever been. It is clear that we all need to remain vigilant of Russia’s actions. 

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