Vladimir Putin’s re-election was never in doubt. And following last night’s result in which the Russian president won 76 per cent of the vote, Russia is now facing the prospect of six more years of Putin in charge – making Putin the longest serving Russian leader since Stalin.
The Russian president’s ‘gangster state is an affront to democracy’, says the Sun, which urges Theresa May to continue her ‘hardline stance’ against the country. The PM’s reaction to the Salisbury poisoning has been ‘spot on’ so far, says the paper, which says it is high time that we ‘take the threat’ of Putin’s regime ‘very seriously’. So what should the government do now after Russia retaliated by booting out 23 British diplomats? ‘Putin’s wealthy pals in London’ should have their cash ‘closely scrutinised’, says the paper. After all, doing so would ultimately hurt Putin and mean that he feels ‘the humiliation of his cronies.’ ‘We should also make it far tougher for his pals to come here’ in the first place, the Sun says. More importantly, though, ‘our dependence on Russian gas cannot continue’. It is time Britain steps up fracking in order to provide Britain with an alternative supply of energy. Above all, the Sun concludes, Britain must ‘remain resolute’ in the face of the growing threat from Russia.
The Russian spy poisoning and the diplomatic fallout has distracted from another important story, says the Daily Telegraph: Brexit. A Brussels summit this week could see major progress finally being made on a transition deal. The Telegraph says that, so far in negotiations on this topic, Britain has been prepared to make all the concessions. This is, in part, because it was Britain that proposed a transition deal in the first place. It also stems from the Government’s apparent willingness to back down – such as May’s willingness to drop her proposals that EU citizens arriving after next March would be ‘treated differently from those living here before the supposed Brexit cut-off’. The paper does sympathise with the urgency of Britain securing a transition arrangement though; after all, it says, ‘no other country is going to want to reach an agreement with the UK until they know what our future trading relationship will be with the EU’. But perhaps this transition period – which, the Telegraph says, effectively extends Britain’s time in the EU – might have been avoided had proper preparation into the Brexit process been carried out before the referendum. This lack of readiness is most apparent on the question of the Irish border, says the Telegraph – an issue on which there ‘are still many hurdles to be negotiated’, concludes the paper.