Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday clinched a landslide election victory that will extend his nearly quarter-century of rule for six more years, consolidating his grip on power amid the country's war in Ukraine.

Putin, 71, had won more than 87 percent of the votes with nearly 100 percent of the ballots counted, overwhelming three other candidates, the preliminary results from the country's election commission showed. The outcome drew critical reactions from Western nations that viewed the election as far from free and fair.

Over 70 million votes went to Putin, topping the previous post-Soviet record of about 56.42 million that he received in the 2018 election.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while speaking on a visit to his campaign headquarters in Moscow on March 18, 2024, after a presidential election. (AP/Kyodo)

Speaking at his election headquarters in Moscow, Putin thanked the public for placing their "trust" in him as he declared victory following three days of voting through Sunday.

He also pledged to continue the war until Russia achieves its "goals," pointing to the annexation of four regions in southern and eastern Ukraine, which Moscow declared after launching the war, as an accomplishment.

The election took place as the war in Ukraine entered its third year, leaving Russia in a confrontation with the United States and other Western countries that have imposed a raft of sanctions.

Putin, who won his fifth presidential election, has been in power since becoming Russian president for the first time in 2000, including the period from 2008 to 2012 when he served as prime minister.

A White House National Security Council spokesperson was quoted as saying by Reuters that the election was obviously "not free nor fair" given how Putin has "imprisoned political opponents and prevented others from running against him."

In Tokyo on Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida declined to comment on the outcome of Russia's presidential election, but he said Tokyo is eager to resolve a territorial dispute and "sign a peace treaty" with Moscow.

Kishida also urged Russia to restart visa-free exchange projects, such as those that allow visits by former Japanese residents of the Moscow-controlled, Tokyo-claimed islands off Hokkaido to family graves.

At a regular press conference earlier in the day, meanwhile, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi slammed Russia for holding a "so-called presidential election" in the four annexed regions in Ukraine, describing it as "totally unacceptable."

Relations between Japan and Russia have been deteriorating since Tokyo began imposing economic sanctions on Moscow in the wake of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine launched in February 2022.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy criticized the "Russian dictator" for "imitating" an election, adding it had "no legitimacy."

"Everyone in the world understands that this person, like many others throughout history, has become sick with power and will stop at nothing to rule forever," Zelenskyy said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated Putin on his re-election, saying in a message his win "fully reflects the Russian people's support" for him, and expressed Beijing's readiness to promote the sound development of a bilateral "strategic partnership," according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Xi and Putin met in-person twice last year, with their countries strengthening ties in a move to jointly oppose the U.S.-led international order. China is against Western sanctions on Moscow over the Ukraine war.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un also sent a congratulatory message to Putin and said he is "firmly convinced" that the Russian people will "surely win victory in the cause of reliably defending the sovereignty and security of the country" under the president's guidance, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.

Noting that the two countries hold "anti-imperialist independence as a common idea," Kim pledged to join hands with Putin to further develop the bilateral friendship. The two leaders met in person in Russia's Far East last September.

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