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IN BRIEF: Olympic truce, Navalny and buffer zone: what Putin told reporters after polls

The president also spoke about government and its future personnel, election incidents, relations with West and new term’s priorities

MOSCOW, March 18. /TASS/. Russia may consider a proposal about Olympic truce in Ukraine, but does not plan to launch negotiations simply because the enemy is trying to buy time amid ammunition shortages, Russian presidential race frontrunner and incumbent President Vladimir Putin said.

During a media stakeout at his campaign headquarters, Putin also spoke about the possibility of creating a buffer zone in Ukraine amid Kiev troops attacks on borderline Russian regions, and outlined priorities for his next presidential term. The Russian leader confirmed he was ready to swap blogger Alexey Navalny and described the current situation in the United States as a 'disaster, not democracy.'

TASS gathered Putin’s main remarks to the press, delivered at his campaign headquarters.

Attacks on border regions

Kiev amassed "around 5,000 troops" in the border area. The so-called Russian Volunteer Corps (designated as a terrorist group in Russia) and similar organizations comprise around 2,500 people. During latest attacks these 'so-called volunteers' lost approximately 800 people.

In Putin’s opinion, heavy losses sustained by the enemy during cross-border attacks play in the hands of Russia: "Well, if they want to have it that way, we have nothing against it <…>. This plays in our hands to a certain extent. Let them have a good try. It means that there will be less personnel taking part in hostilities in other areas."

Due to ongoing cross-border attacks in the Belgrod Region, Russia may be forced to create "a buffer zone of some sort," which will be "fairly hard to cross." However, its possible width is unknown and "it is a separate question."

Situation in special operation zone

The Russian military is advancing day by day, and its strategy currently implies "something more than just active defense." "Progress is made every day. They are moving gradually and cautiously, but they advance every day," he said.

"In general, the Russian armed forces have taken the initiative completely. At some areas, our troops are literally shredding the enemy into pieces."

Government and its future personnel

Personnel matters in the Russian government will be resolved without haste. "The question is to determine who should be appointed to which post to achieve maximum efficiency as a team."

Russia’s future governmental structures should me made up of people currently taking part in the special operation in Ukraine, who "are not sparing themselves, who are fighting to defend the interests of their motherland, sustaining losses and suffering from wounds."

About Navalny

"As far as Mr. Navalny is concerned: well, he passed away, and this always is a sad occurrence."

"A few days before Mr. Navalny passed away, some of my colleagues - not members of the administration, but certain people - voiced the idea of swapping Mr. Navalny to some individuals held in prisons in Western countries," Putin said. "Believe it or not, I said ‘I agree’ even before the man, who was talking to me, finished his phrase."

Macron’s proposal

Putin said he had no information about French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal to declare an Olympic truce during the games in Paris.

"We are ready to consider all proposals, but always, under all circumstances, we will be guided by national interests and the situation on the battlefield."

"I’ve said it before and I will say it again that we favor peace talks, but they should not be organized simply because our adversary is running out of ammo." The question on who will be Russia’s partner in the eventual reconciliation talks with Ukraine remains open.

Election incidents

Voting incidents, such as attempts to spoil ballots, are "undemocratic at the very least."

"When you don’t want to vote <…> because you don’t support any of the candidates - it is one thing. But when you want to create problems for people who came to exercise their electoral rights, when you show no respect for their choice - it is quite a different matter."

However, the opposition deserves a pat on the back for their calls to come to polling stations at noon: "If the opposition thought that everyone should come and vote, no matter who they support, this is good." "As far as I know, there was no particular effect."

Elections in US

Voting in Russia is democratic, in contrast with the electoral process in the United States, where administrative resources are used for attacking one of the candidates. "A disaster, but not democracy - that's what it is."

The US practice of vote by mail creates an opportunity for vote rigging. "We have no preferences with regard to any presidential candidate in the United States. We will work with those who win the trust of US voters."

Relations with West

West’s reaction to the Russian presidential election is no surprise: "What did you expect from them, a standing ovation? They are fighting against us, fighting militarily."

As "a new generation of specialists" with a "more realistic view on current events" are replacing the old ones, West will act against Russia "in a more sophisticated way." However, its ultimate goals will remain unchanged.

A full-scale conflict between Russia and NATO cannot be ruled out. "I think that everything is possible in the modern world. But I’m saying - and this is obvious to everyone - that, in this case, we will find ourselves just one step away from a full-scale World War Three. I think that hardly anyone is interested in having it."

New term’s priorities

"First of all, we need to fulfill the objectives of the special military operation, to strengthen our defense capabilities and our armed forces."

"All main goals for the country’s development were outlined quite recently in the address to the Federal Assembly. And, having the trust of the people of Russia, our aim is to do our best to finish all the tasks and achieve all the goals that were set."

"I dreamed about a strong, independent, sovereign Russia. And I hope that election results will allow us to meet all these goals together with the people of Russia."